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Negros gov’t approves ALI deal in absence of TRO

Posted on July 21, 2011 09:35:11 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

BACOLOD CITY -- The Provincial Board of Negros Occidental approved late Wednesday the P3.5-billion sale and lease of 7.7 hectares of state property to Ayala Land, Inc., authorizing Governor Alfredo G. Marañon Jr. to sign the contracts with the property giant.

Lawyer Mary Ann Manayon-Lamis of the Provincial Legal Office advised the board members they can proceed with the approval of the deals currently disputed by SM Prime Holdings, Inc. because there is no order from the court preventing them from doing so.

“In the absence of any order from the court, no one is stopping you right now,” she told them during Wednesday’s session.

Judge Estefanio S. Libutan, Jr., who had denied SM Prime’s petition to stop the negotiated bidding, also denied yesterday the mall developer’s petition for a temporary restraining order against the implementation of the deal.

The Bacolod Regional Trial Court has yet to rule on the amended complaint of SM Prime that sought to nullify the deal.

SM Prime believes it should have been awarded the contracts to develop the property because it offered a higher bid on July 7.

The provincial government, however, had declared the July 7 tender a failure because the bids of both Ayala Land and SM Prime were lower than the floor price and decided to hold a negotiated bidding on July 15.

Only Ayala Land submitted a bid and SM Prime, which asked the court to stop the negotiated bidding, was declared to have “lost by default” last week.

During the board’s regular session Wednesday afternoon, 13 of the 15 board members present voted in favor of the contracts. The other two were absent.

Both contracts for sale and for lease amount to P3.505 billion and involve pieces of property adjacent to the Provincial Capitol along Gatuslao and Aguinaldo Streets, and North and South Capitol Roads.

The deed of conditional sale approved by the Board involves the sale of 36,587 square meters of Capitol land totaling P750.033 million. Ayala Land is required to pay 50% upon the signing of the contract and to settle the remaining 50% in quarterly installments within a year.

The lease contract, meanwhile, requires Ayala Land to pay down P2.914 million monthly for another 40,481-square meter lot, a rate that will increase by 10% every five years over a 50-year period.

In a related development, four business groups -- the regional arm of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Southern Negros Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Northern Negros Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry -- yesterday issued a joint statement expressing support for the provincial government’s decision to sell and lease the 7.7-hectare Capitol property.

“We believe jobs will be created, visitors will be enticed to see the province and Negrenses will enjoy a better quality of life,” they said. -- Nanette L. Guadalquiver

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