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Eton defers projects, may test waters first

Vol. XXII, No. 106 [ BusinessWorld Online ]

Monday, December 22, 2008 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES


LUCIO TAN-LED Eton Properties Philippines, Inc. will put on hold projects originally set for launch in the first quarter and would rather assess first how the market behaves amid an expected slowing global economy next year.


Eton President Danilo E. Ignacio said they expect ed a difficult 2009, adding that while the country may be able to handle the economic crisis, it may not come out totally unscathed.


"Eton will be temporarily deferring the launch of three to four new projects for the next two months or until an opportunity arises," he told reporters last week. The company, he added, would instead focus on completing the projects it had started.


M. Ignacio said it helps that Eton is debt-free and has an extensive land bank that allows it to launch projects any time if sees an opportunity.


Another advantage of the company, he added, is its wide customer base. Eton, he said, had not limited itself to the market of Filipinos working and living abroad, particularly in the US, and had diversified its portfolios to include those living in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.


"Everybody is trying to assess the situation. Eton has enough inventories to sell," Mr. Ignacio said. The property company has 17 projects in the pipeline — 12 under construction and the rest due to start next year.


Mr. Ignacio said the company would also focus on the mid-income market where there is still brisk demand.


"The company is optimistic that it can sell its inventories. We will be able to start realizing revenues starting next year," he said.


In July to September, the company posted a net loss of P75 million, almost flat from last year’s P74-million net loss after it adopted stricter accounting standards.


Under the new rules, revenues and costs from a project can only be realized if there is substantial progress in construction its completion has been reasonably estimated.


Still, Eton managed to receive P1.82 billion in total deposits from its customers.


Eton is the real estate arm of the Lucio Tan group, one of the country’s biggest business conglomerates.


The company specializes in high-end and mid-income luxury residences, townhouses, and office buildings for information technology and business process outsourcing companies.


The company said the Cyberpod Centris will be ready for occupancy by yearend, while the construction of the Eton Cyberpod is in full swing and will be ready by second quarter.


These projects are the company’s first office building targeting outsourcing companies.


Meanwhile, it has started excavating works for the Eton Emerald Lofts, its high-rise residential condominium in Ortigas, and the Eton Residences Greenbelt. It will start building Belton Place in the first quarter.


Eton is also preparing the launch of leisure development projects and is looking at Cebu, Batangas and Laguna as the possible sites. — KJRL

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