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Rockwell Land in talks to buy Puerto Azul

Posted on November 24, 2014 09:58:00 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

LOPEZ-LED Rockwell Land Corp. said yesterday it is in “preliminary discussions” with the Panlilio group for the acquisition of a portion of the Puerto Azul seaside estate in Cavite.

Rockwell Land Chief Finance Officer Ellen V. Almodiel, through a letter to the Philippine Stock Exchange, was clarifying a newspaper report that the company is eyeing to acquire 180 hectares of the Panlilio-owned property.

Ms. Almodiel said the initial talks are between premier property developer Rockwell Land and the Panlilio-led Boulevard Holdings, Inc., which is the marketing arm of the Puerto Azul properties.

The sprawling mountainous beach-golf resort and country club in Ternate, Cavite has been a takeover target of the country’s largest developers in their race to grow their land bank outside Metro Manila.

Rockwell Land, builder of the Power Plant Mall and the Proscenium at Rockwell, becomes the latest developer to publicly announce its interest in Puerto Azul.

Last March, listed Boulevard Holdings had said it had agreed to sell to Ayala Land, Inc. about 400 hectares (ha) or 13% of the 3,000-ha total area for a total of P2.3 billion.

Ayala Land would have developed that estate into a high-end mixed-use community under the Ayala Land Premier brand, but in October, it terminated the deal.

Rockwell Land officials did not respond to a request for further information. Officials of Boulevard Holdings were also unavailable for comment.

Boulevard Holdings said last Nov. 5 that valuation of properties in the estate could rise, and that the property should draw investors after the Supreme Court gave Puerto Azul Land, Inc. (PALI) the green light to proceed with its rehabilitation.

The Supreme Court’s ruling, dated Sept. 17, reverses an appellate court decision that sided with the resort developer’s creditors.

PALI, also headed by the Panlilio group, sought rehabilitation on Sept. 14, 2004 after its finances wobbled, citing as reasons the Philippine Stock Exchange’s denial for it to raise more capital through an initial public offering; the 1997 Asian financial crisis that depressed real estate values; and, the real estate bubble burst.

Creditors had objected to the rehabilitation plan, which included among others a 50% haircut on PALI’s principal obligation, as well as the condonation of penalties and interests. But the high court ruled that the restructuring of debts -- about P640 million -- is “part and parcel” of Puerto Azul Land’s rehabilitation.

Shares in Boulevard Holdings surged 3.51% or P0.004 to end trading at P0.118 each, while those of Rockwell Land were unchanged at P1.82 per share.

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