Aug 262013

MANILA, Philippines – Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), the largest toll road management firm in the Philippines, said it is on track to hitting its full-year traffic growth target despite the recent harsh weather that disrupted operations.

The tollway unit of infrastructure conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) is also waiting for government approvals for new projects and higher toll rates, a company official said.

“The good thing is, we were ahead for the first seven and a half months. We should still meet target in terms of traffic (growth),” MPTC chief financial officer Christopher Lizo said.

“Traffic growth target was three percent for the entire (toll road) network,” he said.

From January to July, MPTC recorded a 6.5-percent increase in traffic for its portfolio, which is composed of the 94-kilometer  Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), the 84-km North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and the 14-km Manila-Cavite Expressway (Cavitex).

However, Lizo said Typhoon Maring, the first major tropical storm this year, badly affected operations of MPTC. Maring and a southwest monsoon poured heavy rains in Luzon, resulting in flooding and the collapse of the Pasig-Potrero Bridge along SCTEx.

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“To some extent when we do the budget, we incorporate the impact of extreme weather conditions,” Lizo said.

To jack up revenues, MPTC is hoping to receive government approval for a 12-percent rate increase for NLEX.

“In revenues, we are behind target but we’re still up against last year,” Lizo said. “We’re waiting for the tariff increase,” he said.

In the first half, MPTC contributed P931 million in earnings to MPIC, up 18 percent from P787 million a year ago given the consolidation of Cavitex, and increase in average daily traffic and more distance travelled for NLEx.

MPTC is still waiting for the Office of the President’s awarding of the concession agreement for SCTEx.

“In the end, the Department of Finance agreed to a 50-50 sharing of risks and rewards all the way, from revenues to operating expenses to dividends,” Lizo said.

Under the deal, subsidiary Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC)  will operate and manage SCTEx for 33 years.

For the P23-billion project that will connect NLEx and South Luzon Expressway, MPTC is open to a partnership with state-run Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC), Lizo said.

“We were approached by the government saying that to implement the project faster, you might want to explore partnering with PNCC,” Lizo said.

He said the joint venture will entail PNCC securing a 10-percent stake for the connector road project.

“If PNCC comes in at 10 percent under the joint venture, they have to carry the cost,” Lizo said.

MPTC earlier submitted an unsolicited proposal for the connector road, which is subject to a Swiss Challenge. But Skyway operator Citra also plans to build a 14-km., six-lane elevated toll way parallel to EDSA as a part of the Skyway contract it bagged in 1995.

SMC’s Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp. already agreed not to participate in the Swiss Challenge.

“The target is to finish it by 2016. We’re still on time but it’s getting very tight,” Lizo said.

“MPIC has already expressed it is willing to support us all the way,” he said.

Aside from toll roads, MPIC is also into water utilities (Maynilad Water Services Inc.), power distribution (Manila Electric Co.) and hospitals.

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