SMC, MPIC final road project bidders

Two groups led by Philippine conglomerates San Miguel Corp. (SMC)and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) were the only bidders yesterday for a $16 billion ($388 million)expressway linking Manila's international airport to southern provinces and a rising gambling complex.

Two other groups, an Ayala Corp. -led consortium and Indian-owned MS IL and FS Transportation Network, dropped out of the bidding, said Cosette Canilao, executive director of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center.

The project, a four-lane, 7.75-kilometer elevated expressway connecting three terminals of the country's main Ninoy Aquino International Airport to two other expressways to the south and west of the capital, is one of the government's priority infrastructure projects aimed at attracting investments to boost growth above 7 percent.

Canilao said the government will announce on April 15 which of the two final bidders gave the best offer and a notice of award could be given after two weeks to the winning group.

The Philippines, the fastest-growing economy in the region last year after China with growth of 6.6 percent, has been seeking local and foreign investors in PPP projects meant to upgrade the country's roads, ports, airports and other infrastructure to spur more economic activity. (Reuters)