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Thai shareholder in talks to raise stake in Villar mall developer

Posted on June 03, 2013 10:21:43 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]
A THAILAND-BASED shareholder of Starmalls, Inc. is looking to increase its stake in the listed mall operator, a top official of Starmalls said on Saturday last week.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the topping off ceremony of Wil Tower Mall in Quezon City, Sen. Manuel B. Villar, Jr., chairman of Starmalls, said Land & Houses Public Co. Ltd. is keen on increasing its stake in his company.
“Meron (There is)...” Mr. Villar replied when asked if the Thai firm has plans to raise its stake in Starmalls.
“Kaya hindi ako nagpa-public, baka sila na lang. (That’s why I’m not taking Starmalls public; funding may just come from that company.)”
Mr. Villar declined to give details, saying the Thai firm’s plan has not been finalized.
Officials of that company, which is listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand, did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment and details.
Land & Houses, one of Thailand’s largest property developers, owned a 9.585% stake in Starmalls as of end-March, according to the Villar-led firm’s report to the Philippine Stock Exchange.
In the same talk with reporters, Mr. Villar said Starmalls plans to open new malls in Taguig City, Imus in Cavite, Sta. Rosa in Laguna, and one in Cebu in the next two years.
Starmalls operates five shopping malls: two in Las PiƱas City, as well as one each in Mandaluyong City, Muntinlupa City and San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, according to the company’s Web site.
For future fund raising, Mr. Villar said the company is inclined to borrow first. “Starmalls has no debt. Its stockholders equity is P19 billion. I think the logical thing to do is to borrow maybe up to P4-5 billion initially, then we can do equity offering, may be next year,” Mr. Villar said.
Starmalls grew its net income by 47% to P124 million in the first quarter from P84.36 million in the same period last year on higher revenues. Revenues grew more than fourfold to P425.86 million from P99.73 million, driven by leasing revenues that doubled with the opening of its new mall in San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan.
Starmalls made its debut on the stock market in January last year, through a backdoor listing via developer Polar Property Holdings Corp.
Its shares added two centavos or 0.51% to close at P3.95 apiece yesterday from P3.93 each on Friday last week. -- C. H. C. Venzon
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