Infrastructure conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. expressed interest in acquiring the government’s 3.46-percent stake in NLEX Corp., the operator of two major expressways in Central Luzon.
NLEX is a subsidiary of MPIC-led Metro Pacific Tollways Corp.
MPTC president and chief executive Rodrigo Franco said in a recent interview the company and the SM Group, which also has a minority stake in NLEX, have the right of first refusal on the government’s stake in the toll road operator.
“We are still waiting for the terms and for the government’s asking price,” Franco said.
Franco said the company could set aside funds if the planned sale would push through.
The Privatization Management Office said in February it was rebidding a P2-million contract for consulting services for the valuation of the 649,198 shares in NLEX owned by the national government.
The government’s move to sell its stake in NLEX is part of its strategy to sell state assets to fund the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund.
This was not the first time the government expressed interest in selling its stake in NLEX Corp. In 2019, the PMO also tried to sell its interest in the toll road company.
NLEX is a company engaged in the development, design, construction, finance, operation and management of toll road projects. It is the builder-concessionaire and operator of North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) as well as Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.
NLEX Corp. said the first five kilometers of the Connector Road project would open within the first quarter of 2023. The eight-kilometer NLEX Connector is divided into two sections: the España and Sta. Mesa sections.
The five-kilometer España section runs from Caloocan Interchange on C3 Road to España Blvd., while the three-kilometer Sta. Mesa section runs from España Blvd. to R. Magsaysay Blvd. and to Sta. Mesa, Manila.
NLEX is 70.78-percent owned by MPTC and 11.7-percent by BDO Unibank Inc. French firm EGIS Investment Partners Philippines Inc. also holds 10.16 percent and Global Fund Holdings, 3.9 percent.
MPTC, the largest toll road developer and operator in the Philippines, plans to raise $500 million from a planned initial public offering, according to a report by Reuters last week.
Parent firm Metro Pacific reported that MPTC’s core net income jumped 46 percent in 2022 to P5.7 billion as toll revenues grew 31 percent to a record P22.9 billion.
Metro Pacific earmarked P80 billion for 2023 capital expenditures primarily to fund the expansion projects of its power generation, toll road and water distribution businesses.