Buyout firms lock horns over Philippines power grid

TPG Newbridge was the only private equity firm in the race to operate Philippines’ power grid, until The Carlyle Group reportedly joined a competing consortium.

Three consortia have been pre-qualified to compete for a 25-year concession of National Transmission Corporation, Philippines’ sole power transmission operator, according to the country’s Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation or PSALM.

TPG Newbridge is in the same consortium as Philippines’ Triratna Holdings Corporation, and Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Malaysia’s power company.

The Carlyle Group has also emerged as a contender for the rights to operate TransCo, and is engaged in talks with State Grid of China, according to South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong daily. The Chinese power grid operator is in the same consortium as Monte Oro Grid Resources Corporation of the Philippines.

The consortiums have been given more time to “comment on and clarify the amendments, revisions and modifications in the bidding procedures before the bid transaction documents are finalized,” according to PSALM, which identified the parties in each consortium on its website.

Carlyle, however, has not been identified as a member of the consortium it was in talks with. A spokeswoman from Carlyle declined to comment on the report.

According to an official at PSALM said the deadline scheduled originally for 20 December has been pushed back to January sometime.

Nieves Osorio, the organisation’s president said: “Due to numerous and complex issues raised by all the prequalified bidders during the second round of comments, PSALM decided to open another window of opportunity for the bidders to clarify their concerns.”

Politically volatile, the Philippines is one of the least popular markets in Asia for private equity firms to date. The participation of this asset class in the country’s privatisation could spell the beginning of private equity in the emerging market.