Metro clears Fort Bonifacio hurdles

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 March, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 March, 1995, 12:00am

THE Philippines Government has accepted a surety bond from the Metro Pacific-led consortium as the balance of payment for redeveloping Fort Bonifacio, clearing all major hurdles for the project.

Manuel Pangilinan, managing director of First Pacific, which owns 40 per cent of Metro Pacific, said: 'The government finally accepted the surety bond yesterday as adequate collateral for the balance of the payment.

'About a week ago they had declared the Metro Pacific Consortium as the official strategic partner of the government in the development of Fort Bonifacio.

'So I hope that will mute further criticism about the investments of Metro in Fort Bonifacio.' Metro Pacific Corp has a 30 per cent stake in the consortium.

Last month, there was speculation the consortium would be unable to deposit the 19.5 billion peso (about HK$5.85 billion) down payment before the February 13 deadline. The payment was on time.

The consortium obtained a surety bond from a group of insurers to cover the second tranche of the payment due this week.

Metro Pacific's total investment in the project is estimated at 5.25 billion pesos.

Redevelopment of the 214-hectare former US military base near the Makati business district in Manila is one of the largest projects in the region.

Describing the acceptance of the surety bond as the 'last nail in the coffin', Mr Pangilinan said he hoped the project could proceed in peace.

Mr Pangilinan was speaking after the official launch of a fully underwritten US$50 million floating rate note issue for First Pacific Capital yesterday.

Half of the proceeds from the issue will be used to refinance an existing syndicated loan, and the repayment of short-term loans due this year.

The remainder will be used to reduce the gearing of Metro Pacific because of its commitment to the Fort Bonifacio project.