Unsolicited airport-seaport proposal
MANILA, Philippines – Henry Sy, the country’s richest man, has teamed up with the Tieng family to build a new $50-billion airport and seaport project on a reclaimed land off the coast of Sangley Point in Cavite.
The unsolicited proposal competes with another international airport project amounting to $10 billion proposed by San Miguel Corp. president and COO Ramon Ang, possibly in partnership with corporate tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan.
Belle Corp., the high-end property developer of Sy’s SM Group, has acquired a significant stake in the Tieng family’s All-Asia Resources & Reclamation Corp. (ARRC), proponent of the Philippine Global Gateway Project just days after China Communications Construction Company signed an agreement to pour in $20 billion for the project during President Duterte’s recent state visit in Beijing.
President Duterte has already “verbally approved” the massive infrastructure project during his fifth Cabinet meeting in August, said ARRC president Wilson Tieng.
ARRC and Belle Corp. signed the shareholders agreement in a ceremony at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel on Saturday.
Tieng said the new airport would have a capacity of 50 million passengers and is envisioned to accommodate passenger traffic well into the year 2050.
The project will be built in phases, starting with the reclamation of some 2,500 hectares of land near Sangley Point, the former naval station of the US Navy.
“We will do the reclamation first and then we will start the airport which is a priority of the new government,” Tieng said.
The proposed airport, which is estimated to cost $20 billion, would compete with Ang’s proposal and the existing airport, but Tieng said this shouldn’t be a problem as other cities have several airports.
“We are strongly committed to help the government through private initiatives to help promote better infrastructure that we Filipinos deserve like the Philippine Global Gateway,” Tieng said.
Willy Ocier, Belle vice-chairman and executive director, expressed optimism on the landmark big-ticket project.
“This project is very timely considering the air and land traffic congestion we are experiencing everyday,” Ocier said.
Details of the shareholders agreement are still sketchy, with officials from both Belle and ARRC saying they would make the necessary disclosures in the coming days on how much is Belle’s stake in the company.
Ocier simply said they are pleased to have been invited for the project.
“We’re happy. We’ve been invited here. It’s their show,” Ocier told The Star.
Proponents said they are targeting to have the project operational before the end of the term of President Duterte in 2022.
The project started in 2012 when ARRC was established by a group of businessmen with a vision to build a world-class airport facility, the first integrated seaport and an economic zone.
“It will also provide efficient land transportation connectivity for private and public vehicles and rail system. The special economic zone will provide a platform for industries to establish their manufacturing and processing plants that will allow them to operate in a freeport and logistics-friendly zone, thereby positioning the Philippines competitively in the forthcoming ASEAN Integration,” Tieng said.
ARRC is led by the Tieng family, which has investments in television network through Solar Entertainment Corp. and real estate, while Belle is a premier developer of the high-end Tagaytay Highlands and City of Dreams Manila, an integrated resort facility built in partnership with Melco Crown Philippines Resorts Corp.