PHILIPPINE REAL ESTATE and RELATED NEWS in and around the country . . .
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Highlands Prime launches two projects

Posted on 11:19 PM, July 29, 2010 [BusinessWorld Online ]
HIGHLANDS PRIME, Inc., the high-end leisure property development firm of the Sy family, has launched two new projects worth P2 billion.
The new projects -- The Woodridge Place Phase 2 at The Highlands and The Glass Terrace at the Midlands -- are meant to meet increasing demand for leisure properties in Tagaytay.
The Glass Terrace, a condominium project, will have five buildings with 100 units each, to be sold at an average of P75,000 per square meter (sq. m.), Roel B. Parian, vice-president for finance of Highlands Prime, told reporters after the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting in Pasay.
The buildings will occupy 4,586 sq. m. in a 9.6-hectare lot owned by the company.
“The condominium design utilized glass extensively, through large windows and doors in each of the 500 units to maximize natural sunlight and wind, resulting in significant energy cost savings,” Highlands Prime said in a statement.
It will take the company two-and-a-half to three years to complete the two projects, Vice-Chairman Willy N. Ocier said.
Both projects at Tagaytay Highlands, which is being developed by Highlands Prime and affiliate Belle Corp., will have a view of Taal Volcano.
Two new towers at Woodridge Place, which will cost around P800 million, will have 100 units each. The Linden and Mahogany towers will sit at the “highest point in the Highlands complex at 2,000 feet above sea level,” Highlands Prime said.
“These two projects are expected to augment and reinforce Highland Prime’s sales performance, together with existing projects,” Highlands Prime Chairman Henry Sy, Jr. told reporters.
Meanwhile, an idle lot in Canlubang, Laguna will be used for various other developments, officials said. “For the Canlubang project, we have already started the master plan ... We want it to be a mixed used development,” Shirley C. Ong, senior vice-president of Highlands Prime, said.
The firm acquired the 342-hectare property in Laguna last year.
Shares in Highlands Prime -- whose profits dropped by 73% to P7.08 million in the first quarter as revenues decreased by a third to P80.2 million -- were last traded on May 20 at P2.55 each. -- Neil Jerome C. Morales
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Cojuangco to expand resort, take over golf course

Posted on 11:16 PM, July 29, 2010 [ BusinessWorld Online ]
SUBIC FREE PORT -- Businessman Antonio “Tony Boy” O. Cojuangco is expanding a beach resort and hotel project here with the infusion of P300 million in fresh investments.
“The Nabasan area will be one of the next top destinations inside Subic free port,” Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Armand C. Arreza said shortly after the contract signing for the P300-million project.
Mr. Cojuangco, chairman of Nabasan Subic Development Corp., is developing areas adjoining the former Nabasan Wharf beach into a hotel and resort, initially committing to invest P500 million.
Nabasan Beach is popular among tourists. The beach area is also a favorite spot of scuba divers wanting to explore marine life and underwater wrecks in Subic.
SBMA deputy administrator Stefani C. Saño said Mr. Cojuangco had expressed interest to take over the rehabilitation of the Subic golf course, including the construction of a five-star hotel and luxury villas.
Mr. Saño said Hanafil Golf and Tour, Inc., the operator and developer of the 18-hole Subic golf course, was negotiating the final terms and conditions for Mr. Cojuangco to take over the golf course.
Mr. Saño said Benjamin John Defensor III, chief executive and president of Hanafil, had informed the SBMA of negotiations with Mr. Cojuangco.
Hanafil had committed to invest $48 million for the redevelopment of the 18-hole Binictican golf course, which was closed last year. However, golf club members are complaining of the supposedly slow pace of development.
A total of 26 tourism-related expansion projects of existing locators, with a combined total investment commitment of $1 billion, were processed by the SBMA in the first six months of the year.
The top 10 expansion projects for the first half are those of Korean property developer M Castle Subic Philippines, Inc. ($1 billion), Nabasan ($6,521,739), Grande Island resort developer GFTG Property Holdings ($2,223,222), Royal Duty Free Shops, Inc. ($2,127,659), Aggressive North Developers, Inc. ($1,063,829), Gerry’s Grill Restaurant operator James Fausto Corp. ($891,304), Segara Villas and Promenade Commercial Building owner Global Hotel and Leisure Properties ($666,667), computer and Internet cyber shops operator Jemeryk Portal System ($652,173), Freeport Sarang ($250,000), and Starbucks franchise holder R. Joseph Holdings ($217,391). -- Rey Garci
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Property firms buck REIT Law deferral

Thursday, 29 July 2010 00:00 [ manilatimes.net ]
BY KRISTA ANGELA M. MONTEALEGRE REPORTER
COMPANIES planning to raise money through real estate investment trusts (REIT) warn that the Aquino administration’s plan to defer implementation of the new tax-eroding law, which aims to go around Philippine restrictions on foreign ownership of real estate assets, would risk turning away billions of dollars in potential investments. Jeffrey Lim, SM Prime Holdings Inc. chief financial officer, said the combined REIT offerings of the property giants could generate $1 billion worth of new investments.
“In our road shows since last year, interest from foreign fund managers are also eagerly waiting implementation of REIT,” he said.
The executive said the company was looking at its $500-million REIT offering as a source of funding.
But if the law’s implementation were delayed, the country’s biggest retailer would have to borrow $50 million to $100 million to work on its capital requirements for the year, Lim said.
“If the REIT will not push through, we will look for an alternative, either bond or debt,” he said.
Jaime Ysmael, Ayala Land Inc. chief finance officer, said the government must look beyond the foregone taxes, and on to the revenues that REITs could generate.
“It will lead to a lot more malls offices, hotels being built, generate a lot more employment. There are multiple sources of taxes that can be generated through those activities,” the executive said in a briefing.
With the REIT law, the government would have new sources of revenues, including value-added taxes, employment taxes, income taxes, withholding tax from the increased economic activity, Ysmael said.
He admitted however that the deferral of the REIT would have no effect on the property developer’s growth.
“It will not be a dampener in terms of what we intend to achieve in the future,” he said.
Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Cesar Purisima said on Tuesday the agency would push for the deferral in the implementation of the REIT law.
He said the government would draft the implementing rules and regulations of the law in such a way that it would minimize the erosion in tax revenues.
The REIT Act, or Republic Act 9856, grants tax and other incentives to investments related to the financing and the management of big real estate projects in the country.
Francis Lim, former president of the Philippine Stock Exchange, said REIT advocates would seek a dialogue with officials of the DOF to explain that “the tax impact was not as bad as it was portrayed to be.”
In fact, the REIT was also consistent with the plans of President Aquino to create more infrastructure in the country, Lim said.
“Even from the policy standpoint, the REIT law, as envisioned, will help the administration achieve that very good objective,” he added.
Lim said the tax incentives were included in the law to make the Philippines more attractive for investments. The global REIT industry is worth $600 billion with Asia cornering $60 billion.
“If we give the same, the Philippines will never catch up because others are already ahead,” he said.
Despite the foreseen delay, Juanita Cueto, commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said the regulator would accept applications for a REIT offering.
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REIT implementation pushed

BY ALBERT CASTRO
[ Malaya.com.ph ] July 29, 2010
Stakeholders in the newly introduced real estate investment trust (REIT) business yesterday called on the government to speedily implement the REIT law despite its fears of revenue losses.
They said the fears, expressed by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima during the opening of the two-day REIT summit which ended yesterday, go against the momentum of the market.
The REIT law which was passed last year gives tax incentives to firms dedicated to forming and holding portfolios in real estate companies. The investing public participates by buying or selling unit trust certificates in the REIT companies.
Jaime Ysmael, Ayala Land chief finance officer, said government should look at the long-term benefits from REIT.
The investments generated will create a "multiplier" that will boost government revenues in the long run.
"As was seen in experience, the net effect would be favorable to the economy," he said.
"It is just a matter of dialogue. It is good for the economy," Ysmael said.
Jeffrey Lim, SM Prime Holdings chief finance officer, said the government should weigh the impact of its actions on investors’ sentiments.
"Just among the three of us – SM Prime, Ayala Land, and Robinsons (Land Corp.), we could generate $1 billion in new money coming to the market," he said.
Lim said the REIT is good for the development of the market.
"As was said, it is high time for the Philippines to have REIT," he added.
Former Philippine Stock Exchange president Francis Ed Lim said the revenue concern was considered during the deliberation of the law.
REIT proponents argued that tax concessions will be offset by the long-term rise in collections, citing a third party study presented in one of the technical working committee meetings during the deliberation of the REIT the law.
"The implementation of the law is consistent with the road map of the President... The REIT as designed will help the objectives of the government," said Lim.
"We should look at the long term and not adopt a myopic view," Lim said.
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SM Prime to borrow $100 million if REIT listing slips

By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) Updated July 29, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - SM Prime Holdings Inc., the country’s largest retail landlord, will look to raise up to $100 million from the debt market should its planned real estate investment trust (REIT) listing fail to take off this year.
On the sidelines of REIT conference yesterday, SM Prime executive vice-president Jeffrey C. Lim said the company would tap the debt market if it fails to launch a REIT offering this year. “We might either tap the bond market or just borrow money,” he said.
Lim said the additional fund would be used to refinance debt.
SM Prime is spending P12.1 billion this year, P8 billion of which will go to its domestic expansion while P4 billion will be spent for its expansion in China.     
This year, SM Prime is slated to open four new malls – SM City Novaliches in Quezon City; SM City Tarlac; and SM City Calamba and SM Supercenter San Pablo, both in the province of Laguna. These would bring the company’s s total malls to 40 by the end of the year, of which 16 are in Metro Manila and the others are spread out nationwide. The 40 malls will have an estimated combined gross floor area (GFA) of 4.8 million square meters.
SM Prime is targeting to put up two malls each year in China to bring the total number of malls in the mainland to 10 by 2014 as it seeks to take its malls overseas public. It is scheduled to open its fourth mall in China, SM Suzhou, in the fourth quarter of the year. Located in the province of Jiangsu. SM Suzhou will have a GFA of approximately 70,000 sqm.
Two new malls also slated for opening are in Chonggqing and Zibo, which will add to the firm’s three existing malls there - SM Xiamen, Jinjiang and Chengdu.
SM Prime said it expects to add 300,000 sqm to its current gross leasable area of 4.5 million sqm this year and another 300,000 to 350,000 sqm next year.
For next year, SM Prime will start building malls in Gen. Santos City, Commonwealth Ave. in Quezon City, Lanang (second mall in Davao City) and its second mall in Cebu to be located in La Consolacion, South Reclamation project.
The company has allotted P6 billion over the next three years to develop two shopping malls within the reclaimed 240-hectare South Road Properties (SRP) in Cebu City.
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Vice mayor opposes idea of foreigners owning lands

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 [ sunstar.com.ph ]
DAVAO CITY Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his opposition in allowing foreigners to own the country's lands even as he announced offers of sisterhood agreements from foreign countries.
"Be my guest if you want to plant or dig but you can never own our lands. If we allow that, someday our children will have to build their houses on soil that is not theirs. That's stupidity," Duterte said.
Duterte on Tuesday welcomed a development on the city's relations with foreign countries, saying he would soon be undertaking an extended leave for two months to attend to offers of sisterhood agreements from South Korea, Republic of China, Turkey, Palau, Fiji, and Saipan.
Duterte said he understands that the idea is due to the city's resources that foreigners are interested, but also expressed his opposition in allowing multinationals to own lands in the country.
"China is interested sa mining, gold, ore, silver, copper basta naa. Let's take it easy. Like the way some congressmen wanted to change our Constitution just to allow foreigners to own land, that's crazy. I said you can come here, you dig, you plant, you make your profit but do not own our lands. That's my stand," Duterte said in a television program.
"I would never agree to the idea of selling lands to foreigners and allow them to have our lands titled to their name. Mahurot ning Pilipinas, pobre ta eh (All of the Philippines would be sold out because we are poor)," Duterte said.
Duterte said he'd be taking a series of trips to other countries in the next two months but vowed that he would not be using government money for his expenses. (Jade C. Zaldivar)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 29, 2010.
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Noynoy to address real estate sector today

(The Philippine Star) Updated July 29, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - The 4th Philippine Real Estate Festival (PREF) exhibit and forum opens today at the World Trade Center with President Aquino III to address the annual real estate sector national event as guest of honor and speaker.
Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay, concurrent chairman of the Housing & Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), will head the ribbon cutting, and deliver the opening remarks.
Former President Fidel Ramos, will be the guest of honor and speaker on the final day ceremony and announcement of the winners of the Real Estate Excellence Awards.
Leaders of major real estate amd tourism companies and other related industries, including banks and concerned government agencies such as Pag-IBIG Fund will be available to receive guests and prospective buyers during the three-day real estate special sale where special discounts of as much as 10 percent and easier financing terms will be available to those who buy their jousting units during the three-day festival.
International speakers, together with top Philippine industry leaders will speak on international perspectives of developing real estate and tourism with possible prospects of forging joint venture agreements and other collaborations.
The real estate program includes an ASEAN Fiesta to be attended by diplomats and leading entrepreneurs and business managers in the leisure and tourism business.
Festival chairperson Rosemarie C. Basa says the real-estate-tourism festival aims to focus national attention on the growth potentials for the tourism industry as another engine of growth for the national economy, under the theme: “Global Tourism and Real Estate Development – Sunrise Industries for the Philippine Economy”.
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Bloombury to invest $577 million in Entertainment City Manila

(The Philippine Star) Updated July 29, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - Bloombury Investments Holdings, Inc. recently broke ground to start the development of an 8.3-hectare, world class integrated resort complex at the Bagong Nayong Pilipino-Entertainment City Manila, an investment amounting to $577 million. Total investment for the long term is expected to reach $ 1 billion.
The groundbreaking signaled the start of the first phase of development, making Bloombury the first among the four developers to start construction in the Entertainment City. 
Named the Solaire Manila project, Bloombury’s integrated resort complex includes a five-star, 500-room hotel covering some 165,000 square meters of floor area. The Entertainment City has been designated as a special economic zone area under Philippine Economic Zone Authority.
“We are excited about this investment in the Entertainment City Manila. Aside from catapulting the Philippines into a key player in the tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries, the project will make Filipinos proud for having a world class leisure hub that will showcase the best that the country can offer.
Entertainment City Manila will rival the leisure hubs in the region such as those in Macau, Malaysia, and of late, Singapore,” says Enrique K. Razon Jr., Bloombury chairman.
Bloombury’s complex is set to be operational in the third quarter of 2012, Aside from attracting local and foreign visitors, the complex is expected to generate some 2,500 jobs and to boost the country’s ancillary service sectors.
The complex will also feature state of the art meeting and convention facilities as well as relaxation and leisure facilities such as a live performance theater, an array of restaurants, health and wellness facilities.
Razon, together with Parañaque City Mayor Florencio Bernabe, led the groundbreaking rites. They were assisted by Bloombury directors and officers led by Jose Eduardo J. Alarilla, president and director; Estela Tuason-Occena, treasurer and director, Edgardo Q. Abesamis, director; Christian R. Gonzalez, director; and Donato C. Almeda, chief operating officer.
Steelman,design architect and Steelman Partners chief executive officer.
The Bagong Nayong Pilipino-Enter-tainment City Manila is a multi-billion dollar project of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), a government-owned corporation engaged in the entertainment and gaming business.
The Pagcor project covers 120 hectares of prime reclaimed land at the western portion of the Manila Bay in Parañaque City.
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Deferral of REIT rules planned

Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:00 [ manilatimes.net ]
BY KATRINA MENNEN A. VALDEZ REPORTER
The Department of Finance (DOF) said it will push for the deferral in the implementation of a new tax-eroding law that aims to go around Philippine restrictions on foreign ownership of real estate assets. On the sidelines of the 60th Anniversary of the Management Association of the Philippines, Finance
Secretary Cesar Purisima told reporters that the government would draft the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) Act in such a way that it would minimize the erosion in tax revenues.
The REIT Act, or Republic Act 9856, grants tax and other incentives to investments related to the financing and the management of big real estate projects in the country.
“We are currently in talks with the authors of the REIT law. We want to get involved in the drafting of the IRR so as to minimize its adverse impact on the government’s revenue side,” Purisima said.
The DOF chief said he would seek a deferral of the IRR until such time that safeguard measures against its tax eroding impact are in place.
The department estimates revenue losses of P2.7 billion a year from the implementation of the REIT Act. For the first year alone, the government expects to lose P1 billion.
The new law allows the establishment of a corporation in which investors can own shares of stock in income-generating real estate assets. These shares would be listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).
The Philippine Constitution bars foreign ownership of land.
Listed Philippine real estate developers have been running afoul of foreign ownership rules amid the huge overseas interest in the domestic property sector.
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Ayala hikes target for residential units this year

Posted on 09:03 PM, July 27, 2010 [ Businessworld Online ]

STRONG SALES of residential projects have prompted property giant Ayala Land, Inc. to launch more units this year, hiking the target by almost a third to a record of 12,000 units, an executive said yesterday.
The company is in the process of selecting assets for its minimum $300-million foray into real estate investment trusts (REIT), a new investment vehicle.
“We have already upped our target launching from an initial 9,275 units to 12,000,” Jaime E. Ysmael, Ayala Land senior vice-president and chief finance officer, told reporters at the sidelines of a REIT forum in Makati. “Effectively, we are trending towards a higher launch target this year.”
“There is a high sales take-up. [The bulk is still from] domestic [buyers] but the overseas Filipinos are there,” Mr. Ysmael added.
Last week, Ayala Land said it had already sold about 6,000 units in the first half.
Ayala Land operates under three major brands -- Ayala Land Premier for the high-end segment, Alveo Land for the middle-income segment, and Avida for the “affordable” market. Early this year, it launched economic housing brand Amaia.
Profits of the property giant jumped by a third to P1.2 billion in the first quarter. The latest figure, which marked the fifth consecutive quarter of profit growth for the firm, was 32% higher than the P907-million net income recorded in the same period last year.
Meanwhile, Ayala Land is continuously looking at businesses to be included in a REIT company to be formed soon, Mr. Ysmael said.
“Most likely hotels will not be included. Most likely it would retail and office spaces,” he said.
Ayala Land has appointed JP Morgan and BPI Capital Corp. as financial advisers for the venture into the REIT, which allows companies to use pooled capital of investors to buy and manage income-generating properties or mortgage loans.
“[Proceeds] will be reinvested again to further accelerate the expansion of malls and offices and probably land banking to support other businesses,” Mr. Ysmael said.
Shares in Ayala Land -- which launched the P4-billion West Tower condominium project in Bonifacio Global City last week -- rose to P14.94 apiece yesterday from P14.78 on Monday. -- Neil Jerome C. Morales
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ALI, Puregold ink lease for Fairview property

(The Philippine Star) Updated July 28, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - Real estate developer Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) and Ellimac Prime Holdings Inc (EPHI) of the Puregold and S&R chain recently signed a long-term lease agreement for a six-hec-tare property along Quirino Highway in Fairview, Quezon City.
The site presents a good opportunity for both groups to tap a large market base of residents in northern Quezon City and nearby communities, as evidenced by the numerous residential and commercial constructions ongoing in the area.
On the site, a commercial center will be developed by ALI’s Ayala Malls division, in the league of its awardwinning developments that include Glorietta, Greenbelt, Alabang Town Center, Ayala Center Cebu, Bonifacio High Street and Trinoma,. Given ALI’s proven track record in creating world-class commercial developments, the planned mall promises to be another distinctive and modern shopping, dining and entertainment destination.
Puregold and S&R are leading players in the wholesale and retail chain business with over 55 outlets in the country. The group has adopted an aggressive expansion program that aims to strengthen their offerings for existing markets and new ones.
Puregold recently openedbranches in Subic, North Commonwealth and Mindanao Avenue and is currently constructing its Alabang store. S&R will open a much-awaited outlet in Cebu this October.
The Puregold and S&R Group will bring with them their broad loyal customer base and expertise in merchandising and partner with Ayala Malls, whose cutting-edge design and flair will deliver another unique and rewarding shopping experience.
The Fairview project will be the next significant development of Ayala Malls in Quezon City after Trinoma. The construction of Glorietta Redevelopment and Abreeza Mall in Davao is currently underway.
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SSS sells P83-million houses, lots to members, buyers

By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) Updated July 28, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - The Social Security System (SSS) said yesterday that it has sold P83.22 million worth of acquired houses and lots to members and buyers. A total of 147 acquired real estate properties were sold to various buyers including members at easy payment terms, a ranking official said.
SSS Officer-in-Charge Horacio Templo said the properties were sold from January to June this year and 665 houses and lots all over the country still remain in the market.
“Interested buyers can purchase their own home from SSS with a minimal five percent downpayment and a low interest rate of six to nine percent under the Housing Fair 4 program, which will end in October,” Templo said.
The institution has been selling its acquired properties to help cut down the national housing backlog and turn idle assets into cash, which in turn will be used for SSS operations and members’ benefits.
Templo said that of the sold properties, SSS cluster offices in National Capital Region and Davao City accounted for about two-thirds. The fund sells its assets at fair market value price, with interest rates ranging from six percent for those worth P500,000 and below to nine percent for properties worth more.
Templo said SSS participates in housing fairs, which offer buyers ease of transaction and favorable terms such as a 10 percent discount for those paying in cash.
“The housing fair makes it possible for us to sell our properties through negotiated sale instead of public bidding, which is tedious for both SSS and the buyer,” he said.
SSS is among the participating state-run agencies of the yearlong Housing Fair 4 program spearheaded by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council. The SSS sold over 300 acquired housing properties amounting to P160.33 million in 2009.
SSS has been beefing up its funds by selling its idle assets.
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Vista Land shares get 'conviction buy' rating

(The Philippine Star) Updated July 27, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - Shares of publicly listed property developer Vista Land and Lifescapes Inc. have received a “conviction buy” rating from leading international stock brokerage house Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia-Pacific (CLSA).
In a report issued last July 16,” CLSA property sector analyst Leo Venezuela said he expected Vista Land’s share price to rise 64 percent or P3.54 within the next 12 months.
“Vista Land has been on a roll... and we continue to reiterate our buy call on Vista Land and make it one of our conviction buy picks with a potential 64-percent rise to our target price over the next 12 months,” Venezuela stated in the CLSA report which was released to stock market investors.
Venezuela noted: “The disappearance of the political overhang (referring to the recent presidential campaign of Sen. Manny Villar who founded the company) for Vista Land makes (it) more attractive.”
CLSA analyzes various companies and its top picks are included in a “conviction buy” list expressing its confidence in those companies’ fundamentals and future prospects.
Good results in 2009 and an encouraging start to 2010 in terms of sales take-up anchored CLSA’s view of Vista Land ‘s strong fundamentals. The property group had earlier reported that it was targeting a record P20 billion in sales take-up for 2010. Ricardo B. Tan Jr., Vista Land’s senior vice president for finance, said recently that there was a strong likelihood that the company would declare a cash dividend during the second half of the year.
Renewed confidence, rising remittances from overseas Filipinos, low interest rates, and modest property price appreciation are factors that bode well for the property sector in general. Venezuela said Vista Land has recently been outperforming the market, and he attributed this to the market “finally recognizing its inexpensive valuations, robust fundamentals, and disappearance of the political overhang two months ago.” 
Shares of Vista Land have similarly earned “buy” ratings from other analysts in the first semester of 2010.
Vista Land is the holding company of five business units, namely Brittany, CrownAsia, Camella Homes, Camella Communities, and condominium developer Vista Residences. As the country’s leader in homebuilding with the widest geographic presence nationwide among all property developers, the group has generated recognition among buyers for its themed and master-planned communities that offer quality housing across all market segments.
The group recently announced a core net income of P694 million in the first quarter of 2010, a 10 percent increase over the P630 million recorded in the first quarter of 2009. The company had total consolidated assets of P55 billion as of 2009.
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