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Villar group consolidates leasing operations

Posted on June 18, 2012 10:16:31 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

THE VILLAR Group has firmed up plans to bolster its commercial property portfolio with the consolidation of two units under a single listed entity charged with mall development and office space leasing.

Nearly all shares in Manuela Corp., the firm behind a retail chain, has been transferred to listed affiliate Polar Property Holdings Corp. , whose name was then changed into Starmalls, Inc.

“The corporate move will make the renamed Starmalls a major player in the retailing business and provide it take-off point to compete in the office space leasing business primarily for the booming BPO (business process outsourcing) industry, ” the statement read, noting that a bulk of the Villar Group’s business lay in the residential sector via listed Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc.

The shareholders endorsed the issuance of 10 billion voting preferred shares, with a par value of one centavo each, to fund the acquisition of a 98% equity interest in Manuela, which operates six Starmalls nationwide.

The mall operator was forced into corporate rehabilitation following the 1997 Asian financial crisis, where it remained until early this year, the statement noted.

Manuela said that it was aiming to spend P15 billion over the next five years to bankroll its nationwide expansion plans, beginning with a mall in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan, and to be followed by malls in Visayas and Mindanao, according to earlier reports.

Shareholders of medium-cost developer Polar Property also approved an increase in the firm’s authorized capital stock to P17 billion-divided into 16.90 billion common shares with a par value of P1.00 each-from a previous capital of P5.50 billion, the statement read.

Meanwhile, Sen. Manuel B. Villar, Jr. assumed the position of Starmalls chairman, while Polar Property Chairman and President Jerry M. Navarrete was appointed president and chief executive officer of Starmalls.

Incumbent Polar Property directors Frances Rosalie T. Coloma, Manuel Paolo A. Villar, Joel L. Bodegon, and Carolina C. Mejias were also elected to Starmalls’ board.

In addition, Anant Asavabhokhin, president and chief executive officer of Thailand-based Land & Houses Public Co., Ltd., also bagged a Starmalls board seat.

Shares of Polar Property gained 0.76% to close at P4 each yesterday. -- Franz Jonathan G. de la Fuente

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