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SMIC set to invest in Waltermart

Posted on January 07, 2013 10:09:29 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]
SM Investments Corp. (SMIC) is poised to invest in Waltermart Group of Companies after two units of the Sy-led conglomerate forged a joint venture with the Luzon-focused supermarket and shopping mall operator, SMIC said in a disclosure yesterday. 
The disclosure said SMIC “subsidiaries SM Retail, Inc. and SM Prime Holdings, Inc. have entered into a joint venture with Waltermart Group,” but did not elaborate.
SM Prime is into mall development, while SM Retail handles the SM Group’s supermarkets, hypermarkets, and department stores.
Sought for comment, Jeffrey C. Lim, SM Prime executive vice-president and chief financial officer, said details of the joint venture deal are expected to be ironed out soon. “We have signed a joint venture with them, subject to due diligence and further negotiations,” Mr. Lim said via text.
Another SM official hinted the deal may involve investment in Waltermart. “No details yet, as they are still being sorted out. We will announce in due course. But joint venture implies an investment in Waltermart,” Corazon P. Guidote, SMIC senior vice-president for investor relations, said in a separate text message.
Waltermart Group is the company behind Walter Mart Malls -- a chain of so-called “community shopping centers” operating in Luzon -- as well as Walter Mart Supermarket, Abenson Appliances, Homeplus Furniture, Electroworld and SB Furniture, according to the group’s Web site.
Waltermart Group now operates 17 community malls throughout Luzon, four of which (Sucat, Makati, North EDSA and E. Rodriguez) are located in Metro Manila.
Waltermart Group officials were not immediately available for comment.
SM Prime, for its part, was incorporated in 1994 to develop, conduct, operate, and maintain the SM group’s commercial shopping centers and related businesses. As of end-2012, SM Prime counted 46 local malls and five China malls in its portfolio, with a total combined gross floor area of 6.3 million square meters.
SM Retail, SMIC’s unlisted retail arm, counted 46 department stores, 37 SM Supermarkets, 34 SM Hypermarkets, and 76 SaveMore stores in its portfolio as of end-September last year. It is looking to bring in two foreign clothing brands to the country this year to boost its fashion portfolio currently consisting of brands Forever 21 and Uniqlo.
SMIC, the parent of SM Retail and SM Prime, is the listed holding company of the SM Group with interests in shopping mall development, retail merchandising, financial services, real estate development and tourism, as well as hotels and conventions.
Shares of SMIC gained P11 or 1.21% to close at P923 apiece yesterday from P912 on Friday last week, while those of SM Prime added 22 centavos or 1.32% to P16.92 yesterday from P16.70. -- Franz Jonathan G. de la Fuente
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