By Mary Ann LL. Reyes 
November 16, 2010

MANILA, Philippines - Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) has entered into an agreement to acquire a part of Fil-Estate Corp.’s stake in four Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3 companies.

The four companies, all majority owned by Fil-Estate, are Metro Rail Transit Holdings Inc., Metro Rail Transit II, Inc., Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC) and Monumento Rail Transit Corp.

According to Fil-Estate’s website, the company’s key investment is in the form of equity interest in Metro Rail Transit Holdings and Metro Rail Transit Holdings II. As of Dec. 31, 2006, the combined investment in these holding companies represented approximately 29-percent interest in the EDSA MRT systems.

Insiders told The STAR that MPIC and Fil-Estate have been in talks for months now about a possible investment in MRT-3. “It is no longer a secret that MPIC has expressed interest in MRT-3 and that Fil-Estate needs money,” one observer noted.

MPIC said it has entered into a cooperation agreement with Fil-Estate relating to the latter’s rights and interests in the four MRT-3 companies.

The transaction involved, among others, the appointment of new directors in the MRT-3 companies who will pursue the continuing relationship between MRTC and the Philippine government under the build-lease-transfer (BLT) agreement covering the MRT-3 line along EDSA.

Knowledgeable sources revealed that there has been no agreement yet as to what form the investment by MPIC into the MRT-3 companies will take, but it will definitely end up in MPIC owning part of Fil-Estate’s stake in the firms.

“Right now, it may just be an assignment of rights or of its shares by Fil-Estate which allowed MPIC to appoint its directors in the four MRT-3 companies. There are still legal matters that need to be threshed out, including what legal vehicle to utilize for the said investment. But at the end of the day, MPIC will be acquiring part of Fil-Estate’s stake,” a source said.

MPIC and Fil-Estate said they entered into this agreement for the promotion of a smooth relationship between the private sector and the Philippine government towards expanding the MRT-3 system along EDSA and to ensure that the vision for an efficient mass transport system and the rest of the metropolis, including the linkage to MRT-3 Phase 2, is achieved.

Following this agreement in the MRT-3 companies, MPIC said it will spearhead cooperation efforts with the National Government in streamlining the operations of the MRT-3. By providing efficient and reliable operations, it said MRT-3 can maximize its potential to deliver convenient mass transportation services to the increasing metropolitan population.

For the first nine months of 2010, Fil-Estate suffered a net loss of P652.2 million as against a loss of P1.99 billion in the same period last year.