MNTC sees SCTEx, SLEx takeover

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    CLARK FREEPORT – The Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) is optimistic it would get before the year-end government’s approval on its P20-billion concession offer to operate the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway
    (SCTEx).

    MNTC President/ CEO Rodrigo F. Franco said the take-over of SCTEx operations could further strengthen
    his company’s financial muscle that, barring any stumbling blocks, should allow it to pursue expansion and diversifi – cation plans in tollways and transportation operations. Franco was guest of the Capampangan In Media, Inc. (CAMI) during its Balitaan forum last Friday at the Bale Balita here sponsored by the Social Security System (SSS) and the Clark Development Corp. (CDC).

    MNTC, a member of the Metro Pacifi c Group of Companies controlled by business tycoon Manny V. Panglinan, is also expecting to end this year with some P2 billion in net profi ts on the back of P7 billion gross revenues which is somewhat higher than 2012’s P1.5 billion in net and P6 billion gross, Franco said.

    He indicated that the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) concessionaire could sustain its money- making operations in the succeeding years, given the prevailing positive economic prospects in the country.

    However, Franco acknowledged that MNTC’s earnings could decelerate a bit next year in consonance with the forecast slower global economic activity in 2014 because of the USled credit tightening as indicated by the rising interest rates.

    “In spite of this expected credit crunch, our operations would still be on the plus side, both in gross and net earnings,” said Franco. MNTC had earlier won the bidding to operate the SCTEx built by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), paving the way for the signing of a concession agreement back in November 2010.

    Presidential approval of the concession agreement for SCTEx was somewhat held back because of concerns on its revenue-sharing terms, prompting a rewriting of the 2010 pact the two parties had signed.

    “These concerns have been ironed out and we’re now hopeful of getting the nod of the Offiasce of the President, which should allow MNTC to take full operational control of the 93.77-kilometer (58.27 miles) four-lane expressway,” according to Franco.

    MNTC had earlier said it will invest some P600 million to integrate SCTEx’s operations with NLEx and the proposed elevated tollways leading to the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx). It has also committed to pump a total of P20 billion in fresh capital until 2043 for road improvements, lighting, signages and other facilities to improve the safety of motorists using the expressways, according to Franco.

    He added that these activities have already been factored in under MNTC’s original plan. In the Business and Operating Agreement with BCDA, MNTC committed to fully shoulder until 2019 the P1.2 billion annual re-payment of the loan BCDA got from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to build the expressway that runs from Subic thru Clark to Tarlac.

    Meanwhile, Franco also reported that MNTC pursued its work-plan extending the NLEx network to the East through the completed Mindanao Ave. link (Smart Connect) in Quezon City and to the Western route or Harbor link that passes through MacArthur Highway to the Philippine National Railways (PNR) tracks up to C-3,which shall be the takeoff point for the elevated NLEx-SLEx connector road. MNTC completed the Mindanao Ave. link in
    2010 at a cost of P2.1 billion, generating some 5,000 jobs.

    Franco said the MNTC is set to borrow initially some P7 billion through bond flotation to finance the construction of the NLEx-Harbor Link. Another P10 billion bond fl oat is being readied for this project.

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