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Ayala Land to open mall in Talisay City

Posted on September 17, 2012 10:00:10 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

REAL ESTATE developer Ayala Land, Inc. plans to open early next year the mall component of its mixed-use development in Talisay City, Negros Occidental, firming up the company’s presence in the province even as it shelved last Friday a P6-billion project in the provincial capital of Bacolod City, a company spokesman said over the weekend.

“Yes, we assured the Governor (Alfredo G. MaraƱon, Jr. of Negros Occidental) that we remain committed to Negros as a key growth center that fits in with our long-term strategy. This is manifested in our 200-hectare North Point mixed-use development in Talisay City. Since April, we refocused our energies on this project, which is well under way,” Jorge Miguel T. Marco, Ayala Land corporate communications head, said in a text message last Saturday, responding to an inquiry on the property firm’s future plans in the province.

“In fact, we recently topped off our mall there, called The District-North Point, which will be opening early next year,” Mr. Marco said.

Ayala Land reported last July that, together with its commercial partners, it expects to invest over P7 billion in the next few years in the North Point mixed-use complex, which the company described as its biggest investment in Western Visayas.

In addition to The District retail complex, North Point will also consist of four residential communities, business process outsourcing office buildings, and a hotel development, the property firm said on its Web site.

Originally, Ayala Land was set to develop the Capitol Civic Center project, which was to be built on a 7.7-hectare prime property owned by the provincial government that was awarded to the developer in July 2011, the same month the property’s deed of conditional sale and contract of lease were submitted by the provincial government to the Commission on Audit (CoA).

Both documents, however, remain unsigned by the CoA despite being signed by both the provincial government and Ayala Land, and being ratified by the provincial board last April as per CoA requirements, prompting Ayala Land to announce last week a “mutual disengagement” from Capitol Civic Center.

“After more than a year since the property was awarded to Ayala Land for development, we are unable to pursue the project on account of the delays and legal disputes that continue to threaten its implementation, through no fault of ours,” Mr. Marco explained.

“As a publicly listed company with shareholders to answer to, we cannot operate in such uncertain conditions.”

CoA officials were not immediately available for comment.

Ayala Land was organized in 1988 when parent firm Ayala Corp. decided to spin off its real estate division into an independent subsidiary to enhance management focus on its real estate business, according to data posted on the Philippine Stock Exchange Web site. It went public in 1991.

For 2012, Ayala Land has earmarked a record P37 billion in capital expenditures to fund around 67 new projects with an estimated sales value of P90 billion, as well as for the acquisition of new properties, the firm announced last February.

The company later increased its 2012 capex to P47 billion from an earlier-announced P37 billion, earmarking P10 billion more for unbudgeted property acquisitions and for its possible “strategic alliance” with the Ortigas family.

Ayala Land hiked its net income by 28% to P4.33 billion in the first half from P3.38 billion in the same six months last year, supported by double-digit gains across all its business lines, its latest financial report as of end-June showed.

Consolidated revenues in the first half rose by 18% to P25.02 billion from P21.25 billion the previous year, with bulk derived from the company’s real estate business.

That, in turn, offset a 13.5% rise in the company’s costs and expenses to P18.41 billion versus P16.22 billion the same comparative periods.

Shares of Ayala Land surged by 60 centavos or 2.58% to P23.90 yesterday from P23.30 at its previous close on Friday last week. -- Franz Jonathan G. de la Fuente

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