PHILIPPINE REAL ESTATE and RELATED NEWS in and around the country . . .

Vista Land eyes bigger slice of upper market

January 29, 2014 9:26 pm [ ]
by Rose De La Cruz

Reputed as the country’s largest homebuilder, Vista Land and Landscapes Inc. never runs out of classy looking home projects and aspirational house designs for a growing number of middle class to upscale markets, without losing sight of its commitment for low-cost housing.

Vista Land recently invited a select group of journalists and real estate brokers in the opening of its Giorgio, MichaelAngelo and Renoir homes at the Portofino Heights, its upscale project in Alabang.

Even before the journalists were toured around the Portofino homes, former Senate President Manuel Villar, founder of Vista Land, had a chat with The Manila Times at the Portofino sales office.

Villar proudly said that Vista Land’s premier projects— Brittany, Crown Asia, Camella and Lumina—have all been selling well because “we provide our buyers with the class and comfort lush landscape in their yhomes, a gated community, club house with swimming pools at prices they can afford. We are also adding a commercial center in Portofino, now being developed, called Evia center.”

Pretty soon, a branch of the University of Asia and the Pacific will also operate in Portofino, bringing these institutions a short drive away from residents of these posh residences—giving them further exclusivity and security to their young children.

The website of Vista Land and Landscape mentions only the brands Brittany, Crown Asia, Camella and Communities Philippines for its prestigious housing brands and for its high rise condominium brand, the Vista Residences. Apparently this is because Lumina takes care of socialized housing up to P1.2 million worth of homes, while Camella is from P1.5 to P3.5 million.

“Our property development is the best. We are better than Ayala. They have the name but I have the product. We try harder every time. Ayala is just in land lots. But for housing, we are way ahead of Ayala,” remarked Villar.

Villar said what Vista Land was able to bring is gated communities, that used to be confined only in Makati.

“We were able to bring these kinds of amenities nationwide, when these used to be exclusively available only in Makati. We are the only property developer and homebuilder nationwide from Tuguegarao and Laoag up north to Tagum, Osamiz and Pagadian in the south. We are now in 74 cities and municipalities with more than 200 projects,” he declared.

Daang hari issue
Villar gets a bit defensive when talking about the much-maligned Daang Hari project that he finished during his stint as Senate President, and which became a political tool against him in the last presidential race in 2010.

“They claimed I built this vital road link for my housing projects but in reality, almost all the developers from Cavite to Alabang and Las Pinas are benefiting from it,” he said.

“All the developers are here. Filinvest, Stateland, FilEstate, Ayala, BF Homes, Cuevasville, Madrigal, SM and mine. The entire Cavite was able to benefit from this road project. You name it they are all here,” Villar added.

“This road can be very well be the Aquino administration’s only legacy after 2016 because the administration is connecting the South Luzon Expressway to Daang Hari for better access to north of Metro Manila. I feel very good because it has great benefits to Cavite,” he further said.

Villar’s eldest son, Paulo, is now in full control of Vista Land as its chief executive officer.

Vista Land’s Portofino Heights is about 600 hectares, all in Alabang of which only 60 hectares has been developed and 500 well-designed homes are fully occupied. The company is now developing 1.5 hectares as a commercial center.

The cuts of the lots are in 400 square meters or more which used to cost only P10,000 per square meter when first sold. The current price is P29,500 per square meter.

“Though Vista land also sells lots with the homeowners building their own homes, the design and exteriors must conform to our architectural themes per project sites,” explained Trixie Dial, sales and marketing head of Vista Land.

Century Properties posts record P24.6-B reservation sales in 2013

By Neil Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 29, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Century Properties Group Inc. has breached its target of hitting P23 billion in reservation sales for 2013 due to strong take-up from its multi-tower developments.

The property firm controlled by the Antonio family will launch at least P17 billion worth of new projects this year as it completes existing developments, the company said.

In a regulatory filing, the firm said its reservation sales reached a record of P24.6 billion last year, up 15 percent from P21.4 billion in 2012.

“Reservation sales came from its Century City, Azure Urban Resort Residences, Acqua Private Residences, and Commonwealth by Century locations,” Century Properties said.

So far, Century Properties has almost 30 buildings in different stages of development, catering to the luxury, middle income, and affordable market segments, almost 90 percent of which are already sold.

The continuing expansion of the real estate industry and the influx of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) remittances delivered the growth for the company, said Century Properties chairman and CEO Jose E.B. Antonio.

“Given the strength of OFW remittances, even during the global financial crisis, we purposely differentiated our marketing strategy to cater to the needs OFWs and foreigners,” he said.

Specifically, the company created an international sales and marketing team, increasing access to the underserved overseas market.

Century Properties now has more than 60 international sales offices and affiliates in four continents.

“The company is looking to launch at least P17 billion worth of new projects, inclusive of the recently launched Century Spire interior designed by Armani Casa, for this year in its in-city locations,” the firm said.

In the coming months, Century Properties will complete two buildings equivalent to over 1,000 units, plus the Century City Mall in Kalayaan Avenue and an urban beach club designed by Hollywood socialite Paris Hilton at the Azure Urban Resort Residences in Parañaque City.

In January to September last year, the company’s net income grew 12 percent to P1.6 billion while consolidated revenues rose 12 percent to P8.1 billion.

With 27 years in the business of real estate development, marketing and property management, Century Properties has completed more than 20 condominium buildings, transforming 744,576 square meters of space into premier residential and office developments in and outside Metro Manila.

SM to spend P10 billion in two years to expand malls nationwide

Posted on January 28, 2014 10:31:19 PM
By Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano, Reporter
SY-LED SM Prime Holdings, Inc. plans to spend about P10 billion to expand existing malls in the next two years, the firm’s top officials told reporters on the sidelines of the opening yesterday of Mega Fashion Hall at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City.

SM Prime President Hans T. Sy bared the plan to add a level to the existing two-floor SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

“We’re trying to start in the third quarter this year. We’re finishing all the plans because it’s such a large expansion -- an additional of almost 200,000 square meters (sq.m.),” Mr. Sy said.

The official said expansion will cover the whole mall situated near Manila Bay, noting the structure has provision for up to four floors.

Asked on the cost of the expansion, Mr. Sy said: “Our initial estimate of that is about P1.8 billion. It’s just like building another mall, but because the size is 200,000 [sq.m.].”

He added that SM Primes targets completion of the expansion in 2016.

Besides the mall in Pasay, SM Prime will also expand SM City Bacolod, SM City Lipa and SM City Iloilo, according to the same official. “All of them will be around 30,000-50,000 sq.m., so around 50% more space for each,” Mr. Sy said. “We don’t wait for the economy to grow before we expand but we are looking positively at the economy. We are confident that it is sustainable.”

Besides the shopping malls’ retail areas, Mr. Sy said the firm will also expand its call center space in SM Taytay and SM North Edsa. “The call centers, right now, are minimal but we are growing that. Some of the growth areas are Taytay and North Edsa,” Mr. Sy said, adding expansion will involve construction of new buildings. “What we learned really is that call centers have easier time to recruit people when these are located beside malls.”

Jeffrey C. Lim, executive vice-president and chief finance officer, said expansion of the malls and the office buildings will entail a total investment of around P10 billion. “Including Mall of Asia -- which is about P1-2 billion -- and the office buildings, that’s maybe around P10 billion.”

He said mall expansion is expected to be completed in the next two years.

SM Prime yesterday formally opened the expansion of SM Megamall called Mega Fashion Hall which is designed to house global retail brands, including the Swedish brand H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M).

“The reason we call it a fashion hall, you would see that we placed a lot of new, exciting hip brands that are very fashionable. We will also have the first H&M in country,” said Steven T. Tan, vice-president for SM Supermalls Premier Division.

Of the 125 tenants expected to occupy Mega Fashion Hall, Mr. Tan said about 90% will be global retailers and the rest will be homegrown.

“Today, we will be 50% operational and you will see another 10% opening of stores on a month-to-month basis,” Mr. Tan said.

He added that the fashion hall is expected to be fully operational -- with all stores open -- by the third quarter.

In a statement attached to a disclosure yesterday, SM Prime said the 86,000-sq.m. new wing of SM Megamall has five floors to match the older buildings of the mall.

Global brands like Denmark’s Vero Moda, Spain’s Pull & Bear and Uno de 50, Los Angeles-based Joe’s Jeans, London’s Savile Row and Burton, French shoe brand Nao de Brasil, and US skincare label Philosophy will open their local flagship stores in the this part of the mall.

It will also bring in some international dining concepts like Hong Kong’s Michelin-Star dimsum restaurant Tim Ho Wan, the first Saint Marc’s Café of Tokyo, and gyoza specialist Osaka Ohsho.

Homegrown specialty restaurants like Abe, pastry shop Chez Karine and Viking’s Buffet will also have their branches in the mall.

The new wing will also house an IMAX theater, Director’s Club for private screening functions, an Olympic-sized ice skating rink and a 14-lane bowling center.

“We keep on evolving and we keep on changing so we will keep on introducing new and fashionable stores,” Mr. Tan said.

“We’re always listening to what the market needs and what the market wants and we’re ready for that.”

SM Prime shares closed P14.86 apiece yesterday, up 20 centavos or 1.36% from P14.66 each on Monday.

Alphaland lodges criminal complaint vs Ashmore execs

By Neil Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 23, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The rift between London-based Ashmore Group and the group of former Trade Minister Roberto V. Ongpin has turned more bitter as the management of upscale property developer Alphaland lodged a criminal complaint against officers of its erstwhile partner.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Alphaland said its management filed a criminal complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accusing two executives of the British fund manager of violating the Securities Regulation Code.

“This criminal complaint is a natural consequence of our disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange and the SEC as well as the Financial Conduct Authority of London regarding the misrepresentation,” Alphaland said.

Early this week, the property firm said Ashmore Group misrepresented the sale of P942 million worth of shares of Alphaland to comply with the minimum public ownership requirement.

“Recently, Ashmore Group’s senior management found out that the said sale of 2.5 percent of Alphaland was simulated as then and now, Ashmore Group continues to own the block,” Alphaland said.

In its criminal compliant, the upscale property developer said Ashmore Group executive Thomas Donnelly revealed in a letter to San Miguel Corp. that the 2.5-percent stake is still controlled by the British fund manager.
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Another Ashmore Group executive, Alexandra Autrey, was included in the criminal complaint for signing on Jan. 2, 2013 a disclosure declaring that Alphaland Holdings (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. sold 49.6 million Alphaland shares to Credit Suisse (Singapore) Ltd.

“If found guilty by a Philippine court, the Ashmore Group officers may be sentenced to a prison term ranging from seven to 21 years,” Alphaland said.

The Ongpin Group earlier secured majority ownership in Alphaland Corp. after a P1.5-billion capital call that was ignored by its London-based partner and a P1.39-billion property swap.

In exchange for a 68-hectare lot in Itogon, Benguet, Alphaland issued new shares. It will be the site of the Alphaland Baguio Mountain Log Homes project.

“After the property swap and the capital call were implemented on Jan. 20, there is no longer any uncertainty on the controlling shareholder of Alphaland,” the company said.

“With the certainty in the majority ownership of the company, Alphaland management is confident that it will now be able to line up the cash required to complete Alphaland’s existing projects as well as to fund its future projects,” it added.

The property firm said it suffered from funding difficulties on news of Ashmore Group’s decision to divest from Alphaland.

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