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Ayala Land looks north for strategic expansion

Monday, August 31, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES [ BusinessWorld Online ]


AYALA LAND, INC. (ALI) has set its sights on the north, citing a shift in economic activity brought about by newly completed infrastructure projects in the area.

Company President Antonio T. Aquino, in an interview, said the strategy was to take advantage of the completion of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), and talks of making Clark International Airport the country’s main gateway.

"I think there [will be] some kind of shift in the gravity going toward the north this time. As time goes by, we think Clark will become an important airport [which] means that the economic activity in the area will be better," Mr. Aquino said.

The company, which traditionally focused on areas in the south of Metro Manila such as Makati, Fort Bonifacio, Alabang and Laguna province, sees the infrastructure developments as magnifying "the trading activities in the area by bringing provinces closer to one another."

"The strategy now is not to focus on the south but focus on geographical location, and obviously the northern part is where we should be present now. We are [currently] choosing those areas for geographical expansion and we are looking at Central Luzon," Mr. Aquino said.

"We would like to choose where the best strategic location is [and right now it is defined] by NLEX, SCTEx and the international airport."

ALI’s northward expansion began in the metropolis with the Trinoma Mall along North Ave. in Quezon City. This development will be complemented by a joint venture agreement, signed last week with the National Housing Authority, to develop the 29.1-hectare North Triangle Property into a central business district similar to Makati and Fort Bonifacio.

Next month, the firm will open its 70,000-square meter Marquee Mall in Angeles City in Pampanga — Ayala Land’s first Central Luzon foray. The mall is situated near Angeles City’s business district and is adjacent to the Angeles exit along the NLEX.

The mall is part of the 53-hectare Marquee project which is envisioned to be a mixed-use community.

"We have started with Trinoma, and then the Quezon City business district and now we are looking farther north," Mr. Aquino said.

"The future is dependent on the demand supply situation and we are always interested in areas that are close to [our existing projects] because managing them will be easier," he added.

Ayala Land’s net income grew by 14% to P1.01 billion in the second quarter. The result brought the firm’s first half net to P2.07 billion, down a third from the same period last year.

Shares of the company closed unchanged at P10.75 apiece on Friday. — K. J. R. Liu

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BPI donates foreclosed lands to boost agrarian reform program


By Ted P. Torres (The Philippine Star) Updated August 31, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Ayala-controlled Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), one of the country’s biggest lenders, has voluntarily turned over 475 hectares of foreclosed properties worth about P242 million to the government.

The foreclosed properties are agricultural lands that were acquired by BPI for various reasons, including the inability of the property owners to pay back their loans.

These properties were turned over to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Alfonso Salcedo, president of thrift bank unit BPI Family Savings Bank, said another set of properties, totaling around 500 hectares, is now being inventoried and would also be turned over to the government.

He said the offer “is a fulfillment of a promise that signifies BPI’s single-minded attention to help contribute to the government’s agrarian reform program.”

Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, for his part, urged other financial institutions to take the same route on their foreclosed agricultural properties.

BPI had earlier turned over 749 hectares, bringing to 1,224 hectares the total number of agricultural land it has transferred to the DAR this year for distribution to landless farmers under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

The properties turned over to DAR included 167.33 hectares in Southern Tagalog, 144 hectares in Western Visayas, 82.53 hectares in Northern Mindanao, 51.61 hectares in Central Mindanao, 40 hectares in Central Luzon, 27 hectares in Ilocos region and 14 hectares in Cagayan Valley.

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SSS earns P125 million from sale of real estate


By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) Updated August 31, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Social Security System (SSS), the state pension fund for private employees, earned a total of P124.89 million from the sale of more than 200 acquired real estate properties all over the country, its top official said.

The real estate properties were acquired from borrowers who were unable to pay their obligations to the agency.

SSS president and chief executive officer Romulo Neri said the agency was able to sell its idle properties after it cut by half the downpayment to five percent of the selling price to make it easier for workers to purchase their own homes.

Aside from the hefty discount on the downpayment, Neri said SSS offers a maximum payment term of 10 years and that buyers could pay until age 70.

The pension fund auctioned the properties during the government’s third national housing fair, which offered affordable homes to workers at attractive payment schemes.

“SSS fully supports efforts to help Filipino families have a house of their own. In less than a year, we sold a total of 221 acquired properties to SSS members and the rest were bought by government employees and uniformed personnel,” Neri said.

The agency has been selling its foreclosed assets at market prices. About half of the properties were located at the National Capital Region. SSS earned a total of P73.67 million from selling 113 units of houses and lots in the NCR.

Annual interest rates are pegged at six percent for properties worth up to P500,000 and nine percent for properties priced higher. Cash buyers get a 10 percent discount on the selling price, which was double the discount SSS offered in the past.

SSS reported a lower net revenue of P8.37 billion in the first half of the year or P8.38 billion lower than the P16.75 billion recorded in the same period last year.

Total revenues of P47.78 billion in the first half of the year also declined by P5.39 billion or lower than the P53.17 billion recorded in the same period last year.

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Regulator approves City & Land’s borrowing plan

Monday, August 31, 2009 [ manilatimes.net ]


THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved City & Land Developers Inc.’s plan to borrow money through the issuance of short-term commercial papers.

In a document from the regulator, City & Land can proceed with its P200 million issuance of IOUs.

The proceeds of the debt paper sale would partially finance the development of the Grand Emerald Tower, a 39-storey office, residential and commercial condominium.

The project will rise along Emerald Avenue corner Garnet & Ruby roads, Ortigas Center, and is seen to finish by June 2011. The project would cost an estimated P525 million.

The debt papers shall have a term at most one-year from the issue date.

The interest will be fixed, with “the average interest rate as of June 31, 2009 [at] 5.3962 percent.”

As of last year, City & Land had assets of P1.39 billion, lower than the P1.47 billion the previous year.

In June, its parent, Cityland Development Corp. had said that it plans to raise fresh funds through the sale of new shares to pay off debts and finance its capital expenditures.

Data from SEC showed that the condominium developer said it would increase its authorized capital stock from P1.9 billion to P3 billion to allow it to sell new shares.

The regulator also approved City & Land’s increase in its authorized capital from P400 million to P700 million.

-- Chino S. Leyco

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