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Fil-Estate willing to divest its stake in MRT-3

By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) Updated December 20, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – The Fil-Estate Group of Companies is open to divesting its stake in the congested Metro Railway Transit 3, which traverses Edsa from North Ave in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City.
Fil-Estate Land Inc. chairman Robert John Sobrepeña said while its deal with Metro Pacific Investments Corp. was purely a cooperative agreement to bring about capacity expansion in the railway system, the group is not ruling out the possible sale of some if not all of its 29 percent stake in MRT3 “It depends. At a certain price, everything is possible,” Sobrepeña said.
“We didn’t really sell.. it’s a cooperation agreement.
[Selling] is something that will be talked about down the road,” he pointed out.
Sobrepeña said the Fil-Estate Group, through four companies, is the single biggest shareholder of MRT 3. “So we basically have the position and the rights as the leader of MRT group. It will be good to bring them (MPIC) for the project’s financing requirements for capacity expansion,” he said.
Other shareholders of MRT 3 include the government which holds 23 percent interest, and the original founders Anglo Holdings Corp., the United Laboratories Group of the Campos family.
Sobrepeña said while MPIC did not acquire any economic interest, it would get a share in the new revenues to be generated from the addition of new trains. He said the plan is to double the existing capacity of 400,000-500,000.
MPIC earlier said the expansion of the railway system would entail an investment of between $300 million and $700 million.
Soberpeña said the group would need to buy new trains, production of which could take two years.
He likewise pointed out that MPIC would take charge of the MRT operations moving forward as the Fil-Estate Group moves to focus on real estate development.
MPIC’s deal with the Fil-Estate Group involved the appointment of new directors in the MRT 3 companies. The move is intended to ensure the “smooth relationship between the private sector and the government toward expanding the MRT 3 system along the artery.”
“By providing efficient and reliable operations, MRT 3 can maximize its potential to deliver convenient mass transportation services to the increasing metropolitan population,” Fil-Estate and MPIC said separately in disclosure reports to securities regulators.
The Fil-Estate Group’s strategy is to sell non-core assets and forge partnerships with other property developers or entities to fund its big-ticket projects.
After successfully trimming debt and operating costs, Fil-Estate is now focused on accelerating completion of its projects and generating sales to boost its cashflow.

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