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Food Terminal sale sealed

Posted on November 12, 2012 10:37:22 PM [BusinessWorld Online ]
By Siegfrid O. Alegado, Reporter

THE MULTIBILLION-peso sale of state-owned Food Terminal, Inc. (FTI) to Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) was sealed yesterday, with the property firm looking forward to building a new business district and the government hopeful of increased economic activity in the southern part of Metro Manila.

A purchase agreement to develop 74 hectares of the 103-ha FTI estate was inked in MalacaƱang, with President Benigno S. C. Aquino III witnessing. ALI bid P24.331 billion during an auction last August, beating two other leading developers.

In a statement, ALI said it planned to transform the property, in Taguig City near the South Luzon Expressway and the end of the C-5 highway, into another central business district (CBD).

"FTI will be development into an integrated, mixed-use and sustainable business district featuring ‘high energy’ blocks that will offer excellent living and working spaces," it claimed.

Antonio T. Aquino, ALI president, said: "The development of what will be the next premier CBD of Metro Manila is another milestone that we are very pleased to be embarking on."

The developer already has CBDs in Makati, Quezon City and Cebu as part of its portfolio.

Given FTI’s proximity to major thoroughfares, the firm is also planning to develop an intermodal transport system in the property through a partnership with the Public Works department.

"We’re still finalizing the plans and timeline [for the development,] but the formal turnover to us will be at the end of this year," Jorge Miguel T. Marco, ALI corporate communications head, told BusinessWorld in a text message.

The government, meanwhile, is hoping that the successful FTI sale -- which came after several failed auctions -- will boost economic activity in the southern part of the metropolis.

"We hope the redevelopment of the FTI complex will lead to a surge in economic activity and increase in employment in the City of Taguig and the surrounding metropolitan area," said Karen G. Singson, Privatization and Management Office head, in a separate statement.

Ms. Singson, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, Public Works Secretary Rogelio I. Singson, FTI president Rene R. Fuentes and Taguig City Mayor Maria Laarni Lopez-Cayetano signed the purchase agreement yesterday in behalf of the government.

ALI, meanwhile, was represented by its chairman Fernando Zobel de Ayala and Mr. Aquino.

ALI’s P24.331-billion bid was more than double the government’s P10.248-billion base price for the 74-ha. lot. It topped Gokongwei-led Robinsons Land Corp.’s offer of P14.667 billion and Andrew L. Tan-controlled Empire East Land Holdings’ P11.248 billion.

FTI is the first major government asset to be privatized under the Aquino administration.

The success of the August auction followed several failed attempts, the last in 2009 when a bid deadline lapsed without any offers. Sale plans were likewise scrapped in 2010 due to unfavorable market conditions arising from the global financial crisis.

Officials have said the sale proceeds will be used to bankroll the government’s agriculture, fisheries and agrarian reform programs. Funds will also be allocated to pay off FTI’s liabilities.
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