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San Miguel’s Ang Revives Plan for $10 Billion Manila Airport

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March 25 (Bloomberg) -- San Miguel Corp., the Philippines’ largest company, revived plans to build an airport in Manila as the fastest-growing Southeast Asian nation attracts tourists and investors.

The company, which also manages Philippines Airlines Inc., will ask President Benigno Aquino in April to approve a new airport to be built at an investment of $10 billion in an 800-hectare property over a five-year period, San Miguel President Ramon Ang said in a mobile-phone message reply to questions. Ang had first proposed the airport plan in 2012.

The Southeast Asian nation will build new airports and expand existing infrastructure to help meet its target of 10 million foreign visitors and 56 million domestic tourists by 2016, Transportation Undersecretary Rene Limcaoco said March 20. Travel and tourism’s direct contribution to the Philippine economy will rise 3.8 percent this year to 490.2 billion pesos ($10.9 billion), the World Travel & Tourism Council has said.

“An airport is very vital to a growing economy; who doesn’t want it now,” Jonathan Ravelas, market strategist at BDO Unibank Inc. in Manila, said by telephone. “Getting the infrastructure projects rolling seems to be a challenge. The first one is always difficult, the rest should be easy.”

San Miguel, which also brews beer and sells gasoline, fell 0.7 percent to 71.50 pesos at the close in Manila trading, compared with a 1 percent drop in the benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange Index. The stock has gained 14 percent this year after losing a third of its value in 2013.

Airport Capacity

Ang in September 2012 said the company may build an airport in Manila as the capital’s existing facility struggles to keep pace with rising travel growth. San Miguel may invite partners for the project, which was reported by the Nikkei earlier today, Ang said.

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport handled about 30 million passengers last year at its three terminals, which have a combined capacity of 28 million annually, according to data on its website.

Airline passengers in the Philippine capital and nearby provinces will climb to 49.8 million in 2020 and reach 75 million by 2030 from 31.9 million in 2012, the Transportation department has said, citing a Japan International Cooperation Agency study. The transportation agency said it could expand an airport in Pampanga province and develop a new airport about half an hour from the capital, and either close or keep the existing Manila airport.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya didn’t immediately respond to text messages and a call to his mobile phone seeking comment.

“The proposal is very timely,” said Astro del Castillo, managing director at Manila-based First Grade Holdings Inc. “We need an alternative to our very congested airport.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Cecilia Yap in Manila at cyap19@bloomberg.net; Clarissa Batino in Manila at cbatino@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Frank Longid at flongid@bloomberg.net; Chua Baizhen at bchua14@bloomberg.net Suresh Seshadri, Dave McCombs

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