By Mary Ann LL. Reyes (The Philippine Star) Updated January 04, 2011 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is spending around P20 billion to set up ‘San Miguel City’ inside Manila North Harbor.
Sources told The STAR that the complex would include not only a grains terminal to service the requirements of the San Miguel food group but also a logistics area and shipping facility for San Miguel Brewery and other divisions, and a bunker depot for subsidiary Petron Corp.
The same sources added that it will also include facilities for the transport of cement produced by Eagle Cement Corp., a company said to be owned by SMC chairman and CEO Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. which is reportedly putting up a P6.7-billion cement plant in Bulacan.
SMC president and COO Ramon Ang confirmed to The STAR via text message the plan to put up such a complex and said it will have a P20-billion budget.
Also yesterday, Petron Corp. entered into an agreement with Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc. (HCPTI) for the purchase of 35 percent of the outstanding and issued shares of capital of Manila North Harbour Port Inc. (MNHPI), a company that was granted by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) a 25-year P14.5-billion contract to manage and operate North Harbor.
With the agreement, MNHPI now becomes a joint venture between HCPTI which will own 65 percent, and Petron which will own the remaining 35 percent.
MNHPI was originally a joint venture between Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) and HCPTI until MPIC pulled out and sold its stake to the San Miguel group.
Of the 53-hectare North Harbor area, around three hectares will initially be utilized for the San Miguel complex but will be later be expanded as the need arises.
Sources said the San Miguel complex will consolidate SMC’s logistics and shipping facilities in one area.
As this developed, MNHPI is scheduled to submit to PPA the conceptual design for the modernization of North Harbor, the country’s busiest domestic port.
MNHPI chairman Michael Romero said the design will address the needs of shipping lines, ports users, and the general public.
Romero told The STAR that they have asked for an extension of the deadline for the submission of the detailed masterplan for North Harbor so that the needs of the stakeholders can be taken into account. “We have asked for the inputs of shipping lines so that the facilities can be customized to meet their needs,” he said.
Petron earlier announced plans to gradually transfer its oil depot to the North Harbor area.
Meanwhile, SMC is putting up its own grains terminal after failing to acquire the Mariveles Grains Terminal of Asian Terminal Inc. (ATI).
SMC has been in negotiations with ATI since 2008 the purchase of the Mariveles Grains Terminal and was confident that it would clinch the deal until ATI announced recently that it was selling the Bataan grains facility to an undisclosed buyer.
SMC was planning to team up with Toyota Tsusho Corp. of Japan for the acquisition which is estimated to cost P1.6 billion. The deal would have made SMC the regional leader in grains distribution and logistics.
Sources said SMC was caught by surprise when ATI announced just recently that it was selling 100 percent of its stake in wholly owned MGC, which is one of Asia’s most advanced bulk grains terminal. The terminal can accommodate vessels of up to 70,000 deadweight tons and handles soybean meal and other grains.
The failure of SMC to acquire MGC may have been a blessing in disguise. SMC said that when its plan to acquire the Mariveles Grains Terminal from ATI did not materialize, its interest in the North Harbor modernization project gathered momentum.
SMC earlier revealed plans to construct a brand new grains terminal in the North Harbor. This grains terminal will service the needs of SMC’s food and beverage businesses.
SMC officials added that aside from the synergies with their food and beverage businesses, the offshore areas of Manila North Harbor provide the ideal location for a tank farm that will replace the Pandacan Oil depot. “SMC’s affiliate, Petron, thus is very keen on the investment as well,” officials said.
Ang has said that North Harbor has synergies with Petron Corp. and San Miguel Foods.
Meanwhile, Romero said that MNHPI envisions a world-class port to stimulate the economy not only for the immediate Tondo community but the country as well. “We are confident that with a revitalized port, Manila North Harbor will be the showcase of domestic ports in the country,” he noted.