PCC approves JV of Manila and Waterfront for reclamation project

Published March 19, 2021, 4:53 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has approved the joint venture between the City Government of Manila and developer Waterfront Manila Premier Development, Inc. (Waterfront Manila) for their planned Manila Bay reclamation project. 

The parties have proposed to build “Manila Waterfront City” over Manila Bay’s reclamation horizon.  

In the Commission Decision signed on March 9, the PCC found that the transaction does not result in substantial lessening of competition. It even cited that the transaction results in a creation of a “new market” that is conventionally pro-competition.  

 “The transaction is a new area of investment formed for the creation of a residential and commercial real estate development project. This will expand the existing market and likely create an opportunity for the emergence of new markets for commercial and residential real estate within the City of Manila,” the decision read.  

 “There are neither affected customers nor any commercial activity in the relevant geographic market,” it added. 

The Manila Waterfront City is a raw-land reclamation and development project covering 318-hectares of foreshore and offshore areas in Manila Bay. Located at the south of Manila South Harbor, the planned development will include a central business district, a gateway, a marina, a waterfront, as well as entertainment, health and education hubs. It aims to help decongest National Capital Region’s capital and spur business opportunities for the City of Manila. 

Under the proposal, Waterfront Manila, a real estate developer under the Crisanta Realty Development Corporation and Pacific Rehouse Corporation, will contribute capital and expertise, while the local government of Manila will contribute rights over municipal waters where the project will be developed. The resulting unincorporated joint venture shall be governed by a sharing arrangement with 51 percent for Manila City Government and 49 percent for Waterfront Manila.  

Reclamation projects, such as the Manila Waterfront City, are assessed by the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) for their technical, environmental, and socio-economic merits. For joint ventures that meet the thresholds under the Philippine Competition Act (PCA), PCC’s clearance is specific to competition implications in the commercial and residential real estate development markets in the affected areas. 

To date, the joint venture between Waterfront Manila and the City of Manila is the 211th transaction cleared by the PCC. As the country’s antitrust authority, PCC is mandated under the PCA to review mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures of firms across all sectors, including GOCCs, that meet the threshold to ensure that these deals will not harm the interest of consumers.