India’s GMR Group has expressed interest in investing in the Philippines, particularly in airports, roads and energy projects, as the Marcos administration embarks on an ambitious infrastructure development through the “Build Better More” program.

GMR Group’s top executives met President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in a courtesy call at Marriot Hotel in Singapore, on the sidelines of his attendance to the 2023 Asian Summit. GMR officials said they will provide long-term solutions to the Philippines, especially in infrastructure and energy.

Srinivas Bommidala, the chairman of GMR Airports, told the President that he is in charge of the group’s international airports and energy, while his brother-in-law, Kiran Kumar Grandhi, as chairman of the group, is also in charge of strategy and finance.

“The group started in 1978 by Mr. GM Rao, my father-in-law, his father. And they have commendable businesses. In 1994, we went into highways. In 1999, when India privatized [the] airports, we built six airports in India,” Bommidala told the President.

President Marcos said he was impressed by GMR’s achievements, hoping the Indian firm could take part in the country’s development of its airports, roads and energy infrastructure.

“Definitely we need to improve the capacity that serves Manila. Sangley, the one of Ramon Ang. Anything you build it will get full. I don’t worry, all my experience in major infrastructure, you think it’s overcapacity, three years later you’ll be building some more,” Marcos said of the Philippine airports.

“And we want that especially when it comes to travel, tourism, business travel, etc. We want it to increase as much as possible. I’m glad that you are looking at the Philippines.”

Marcos told GMR’s top officials that the administration’s thrust toward building major infrastructures is part of the administration’s economic agenda to advance development.

Marcos expressed hope that GMR could apply all its experiences and expertise in its Philippine participation on various major projects.

“We’ve been trying, the reason we go to this process is that it is a major part of our economic program. Well of course Manila is the gateway, even regional airports we are starting to develop, so that not everyone has to get to Sangley or Bulacan,” Marcos said.

“Improve those airports, improve those facilities, roads, communication. Then they can go directly there.”

Regarding Sangley airport, Leonides Virata, the Cavitex Holdings CEO and GMR’s local partner and Sangley Consortium lead, said GMR sees Sangley’s potential in resolving airport congestion issues in the Philippines.

According to Virata, the plan is to start Sangley construction next year and the consortium is just awaiting government clearances before commencing ground works.

The Cavitex Holdings CEO said the consortium will start construction next year and will try to finish the runway in the next five years.

Aside from its interest in Sangley airport project, GMR is one of the five potential bidders who bought bid documents as of September 13 for the P170.6-billion NAIA Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project.

The Indian firm has spent 11 years in Philippines, operating the Mactan and Clark airports.

GMR Group, founded in 1978 by Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao, is an Indian multinational conglomerate headquartered in New Delhi. The group comprises several companies including GMR Infrastructure, GMR Energy, GMR Airports and GMR Enterprises.

The group is a leading conglomerate in India which also operates in Indonesia and Turkey.

Other attendees during the call were GMR Group Chairman Kiran Kumar Grandhi,
Financial Advisor to the Sangley Consortium for international investment to the Philippines Liu Chee Ming,
Speaker of House Lord Allan Velasco,
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go,
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque,
and Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Joseph del Mar Yap.