Sep 192014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/01/07MANILA170.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA170 2007-01-16 05:34 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO8260
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0170/01 0160534
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 160534Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4697
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING IMMEDIATE 5954
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA IMMEDIATE 9504
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG IMMEDIATE 4516
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL IMMEDIATE 2456
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE 3023
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON IMMEDIATE 3393
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000170

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EB/IFD/OIA, EB/ESC and EAP/PMBS
DOE FOR TOM CUTLER
STATE PASS EXIM, OPIC, AND USTR
STATE PASS USAID FOR AA/ANE and AA/G
USDOC FOR 4430/ITA/MAC/ASIA & PAC/KOREA & SE ASIA/ASEAN
USDOC FOR ADVOCACY CENTER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG EINV ECON CH IT RP
SUBJECT: China vs. U.S. (and Italy) For TransCo Concession

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

¶1. (U) Please see para. 15 for ACTION REQUEST.

¶2. (U) SUMMARY: Three consortia have pre-qualified to bid for the
concession to run the $2.6 billion Philippine electric grid. The
Chinese have teamed up with local investors close to relatives of
the President and her political allies. U.S. investors have asked
for USG support for the bid they will submit together with
influential Chinese-Philippine businessmen. This is shaping up as a
major battle between competing Philippine interests, as well as
between U.S. and Chinese investors. End Summary.

¶3. (U) A 25-year concession to operate state-owned National
Transmission Corp. (widely known as TransCo), the sole electric
transmission utility in the Philippines, goes on the auction block
in the coming weeks. With some $2.6 billion in assets, TransCo is
one of the most attractive assets in the ongoing privatization of
GRP electric holdings.

¶4. (U) Not surprisingly, the TransCo concession has attracted the
attention of powerful political and economic forces in the
Philippines and important investors from abroad. As the Philippine
Constitution restricts foreign ownership in the electric sector to
no more than 40%, each of the competing consortiums includes both
important foreign investors and local players.

The Players
———–

¶5. (U) The State Grid Corporation of China has joined with
Philippine partner Monte Oro Grid Resources, newly created for this
competition. Monte Oro is fronted by mining executive Walter Brown,
who represents investment banker Diosdado “Buboy” Macapagal Jr., the
brother of President Arroyo; Arroyo supporter and the owner (among
other interests) of International Container Terminal Services Inc.,
Ricky Razon; and the son of Speaker of the House Jose de Venecia,
Joey De Venecia, a telecom/internet/call center entrepreneur.

¶6. (U) U.S. Texas Pacific Group (via Newbridge Asia IV L.P., often
called TPG Newbridge) holds a 35% share in the principal competitor
of the Monte Oro-Chinese bid. Malaysia’s biggest power company,
Tenaga Nasional Berhad would operate the grid under this consortium
and hold a 5% share. The Philippine partner would be Trinatra
Holdings Corporation, another company formed just for this
competition. Trinatra brings together Henry Sy, Jr., one of the
heirs apparent to Shoemart billionaire Henry Sy; Ramon Ang, Vice
Chairman and President of colossal food and beverage corporation San
Miguel (probably representing his boss, Eduardo “Danding”
Cojuangco), and Joselito “Butch” Campos, who controls Del Monte
Pacific Ltd. and other companies.

¶7. (U) Italy’s largest power distributor, Terna SPA, has teamed
with Citadel Holdings Inc., a vehicle for Ricardo Delgado and his
family, which has been an important player in telecoms in the
Philippines. The Delgados, however, are generally not expected to
be strong competitors.

The U.S. Investor’s Interests
—————————–

¶8. (SBU) Ernest Bower of BrooksBowerAsia (BBA) met with EconCouns
on December 19 and again (with Commercial Counselor) on January 11
to discuss the concession. BBA represents Texas Pacific Group and
requested USG assistance in ensuring the fairness of the bidding
process. Bower said that the final bidding documents are under
preparation by the GRP’s Power Assets & Liabilities Management
Corporation (PSALM). The immediate concern is that the politically
well-connected Monte Oro team may attempt to get PSALM to issue
documents which would give them an advantage or disqualify their
opponents on technical grounds. Bower said the Monte Oro team is
putting pressure on the President of PSALM, well regarded Nieves
Osorio, via Speaker of the House Jose de Venecia. Bower is
concerned that Osorio could be removed from her post before the

MANILA 00000170 002 OF 002

bidding documents are finalized in order to put someone who would
favor Monte Oro into her place.

¶9. (U) Bower noted that his clients have approached OPIC about
political risk insurance. Such insurance would be necessary to
allow them to make a viable bid, he suggested. He also said that
investor guarantees which the Asian Development Bank may provide
would make it easier for private foreign investors to compete on the
same footing with a state firm such as the State Grid Corporation of
China. He is in the process of submitting documentation to the
Department of Commerce’s Advocacy Center in order to formally obtain
USG support for the Texas Pacific Group bid.

¶10. (U) Concession authority for TransCo rests finally with the
Philippine Congress. Bower suggested that if Texas Pacific Group
were to win the bid, it would request U.S. assistance in lobbying
the Philippine Congress to approve the deal.

Power Privatization in the Philippines
————————————–

¶11. (U) Restructuring of the Philippine power industry began with
the passage of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 which
mandated the privatization of the system. Although the law required
that 70% of government-owned electric generating capacity be
privatized by the end of 2005, that target was not met and only 11%
has been privatized to date. Sale of generating assets has been
complicated by the fact that the assets up for sale do not have long
term supply contracts and would face competition from other
as-yet-not-privatized government assets.

¶12. (U) Privatization of TransCo has proven even more difficult.
This is the fourth re-bidding. There were interested buyers in
every case, but the first two bids failed because the law mandates
that the Senate must approve the franchise after the sale and
companies were not comfortable making such a large investment only
to be thrown immediately into a political process. There was also
concern about the potential for independence on the part of the
newly established Energy Regulatory Commission which will set
transmission prices. With a better established Regulatory
Commission (though still lacking complete autonomy from the caprices
of the Supreme Court and still not completely removed from political
influence) more firms were interested in the third offer. However,
it also fell through when the terms of reference were so vague that
every bidding firm felt obliged to write its own specific terms,
resulting in incomparable offers.

¶13. (U) The current bidding process began in May 2006. The three
current competitors were pre-qualified in November. Although
Finance Secretary Margarito Teves has announced a bid deadline of
January 22, he conceded that date might be relaxed based on comments
by bidders raising a number of legal and commercial concerns. Bower
suggested that a delay of at least a couple of weeks is believed
likely.

¶14. (U) Post will report on the privatization process on a
continuing basis on a dedicated TransCo Privatization page on the
Intellipedia. The Intellipedia page can be found at:
www.intelink.sgov/wiki/TransCo_Privatization. Numerous linking
pages provide background on major players in the privatization
effort. Clicking the “Watch” link at the top of a page will sign
users up for notification when the page is updated.

¶15. (U) Action Request: We request that Washington agencies
expedite the review of eligibility for advocacy and of requests for
OPIC support for this bid and inform us of results.

KENNEY

   

 

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