By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) Updated June 14, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - Eton Properties Philippines Inc., the local real estate arm of the Lucio Tan Group of Companies, is planning a major foray into the tourism sector, seen as the next engine of growth for the country and the property industry as well.
Eton president Danilo Ignacio said the firm is seriously considering diversifying into the leisure development market possibly within the year, pointing out it has several properties which can be used for this venture.
“Leisure development will be the next sunshine industry. We’re starting to look at tourism-related projects to help lure more investors into the country,” he said.
Ignacio said Eton owns a 34-hectare property on Mactan Island in Cebu province which the company previously said could be transformed into a tourism estate that will house a five-star hotel, condotels, residential condominiums and luxury garden villas. It also owns a land in Calatagan, Batangas.
According to Ignacio, Eton’s planned venture into leisure development is expected to create synergies with affiliate Philippine Airlines.
Also part of the company’s diversification thrust is its move to go into the affordable housing segment through a new brand called First Homes. The first project, Aurora Heights, will rise on a 4,820 square meter property near the intersection of Katipunan Avenue and Aurora Boulevard in Quezon City.
Slated for turnover by 2013,Aurora Heights will have two 20-story towers offering a total of 1,256 units or 626 units each. A two-bed room unit starts at P1.2 million while a three-bedroom unit costs P2.2 million.
Eton expects 2010 to be a much better year with the expected launch of 10 new projects. Encouraged by its strong first quarter results which showed its net earnings grow more than 10 times to P185 million from only P18 million, Eton is looking at a net income of P700 million by year end, which is more than double the P294 million reported in 2009.
Ignacio said reservation sales surged 98 percent in the first four months of the year with March sales registering the highest growth, mainly coming from various residential projects such as The Eton Residences Greenbelt, Eton Baypark Manila, One Archers Place, South Lake Village at Eton City, The Manors at North Belton Communities, Eton Parkview Greenbelt, Belton Place and the Eton Emerald Lofts.
Leasing income from the company’s newly-opened commercial centers and office projects — Centris Station and Cyberpod Centris in Quezon City and Cyberpod Corinthian in Ortigas — are also expected to boost Eton’s top line.
The company has launched 29 projects in the first three years of its operations and is expected to end 2010 with a total of 36.
Aside from Eton Tower Makati, other residential projects scheduled for launch this year are West Wing Villas, River Grove and the first condominium building within the 12-hectare Eton Centris at the corner of Edsa and Quezon Avenue.
West Wing Villas is the third phase of North Belton Communities, the group’s first foray into the middle-income market through wholly-owned unit Belton Communities. Situated on a 5.2-hectare property, the project will make available three to six-bedroom house and lot units.