PHILIPPINE REAL ESTATE and RELATED NEWS in and around the country . . .
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Megaworld fast-tracks Iloilo BPO buildings

Posted on June 30, 2014 09:35:23 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

MEGAWORLD Corp., the flagship unit of property developer Andrew L. Tan’s Alliance Global Group, Inc., is fast-tracking the completion of its business process outsourcing (BPO) towers in Iloilo City, citing strong demand from companies that prefer the provinces for being cost-efficient.

“Being cost-efficient means going outside Metro Manila and exploring provincial locations with lower rental rates and lower manpower cost,” Megaworld Senior Vice-President Jericho P. Go said yesterday in a phone interview.

Its three towers in Iloilo Business Park -- One Global Center, Two Global Center and Richmonde Tower -- are set to be completed this year. They have a total of 25,000 square meters (sq.m.) of leasable space and will be able to accommodate around 10,000 full-time employees (FTEs) for the BPO companies.

Mr. Go said One Global was originally due to be completed by December, and Two Global, three months after that.

By August, Megaworld will start constructing two more office towers -- One Techno Place and Two Techno Place.

“The construction should start mid-2015, but because of demand, we started construction this year and will try to complete it early 2016. It should have been up and running by late 2016, but now, early 2016 na, possibly by 2015 pa nga,” Mr. Go said.

The Techno towers have a total of 19,000 sq.m. of leasable spaces and will accommodate an additional 8,000 FTEs in the township.

StarTek, Inc., a US-based BPO company, started operations in the Richmonde Tower in June and is poised to launch its stand-alone BPO office building at Two Global Center by the fourth quarter.

Megaworld has also started constructing the Megaworld Central Mall and Festive Walk, a 1.1-kilometer commercial and retail strip parallel to Iloilo’s Diversion Road. The mall and the first phase of Festive Walk are expected to be completed by second half next year.

Richmonde Hotel Iloilo, a 151-room business hotel, will also open early next year, in time for the city’s hosting of some events of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.

Another hotel, Courtyard by Marriott, has begun construction and is expected to be completed by end-2015.

Construction of the Iloilo Convention Center, which has a 3,700 seating capacity, has also begun and is expected to the biggest and most modern convention facility in Region 6.

Other Megaworld projects outside Metro Manila are the 11-hectare Davao Park District in Lanang, Davao City, and the 28.8-hectare The Mactan Newtown in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

Over the past 24 years, Megaworld has completed more than 320 residential and office buildings with a total area of around 5.6 million sq.m.

About 185 residential, office and hotel buildings with a total area of around 5.4 million sq.m. are currently under development.

Megaworld grew its first-quarter net income by 49% year on year to P2.69 billion.

Total revenue of the company and its subsidiaries Empire East Land Holdings and Suntrust Properties surged 22% in the first three months, hitting P9.94 billion.

Megaworld shares on Monday gained two centavos or 0.45% to end at P4.50 apiece. -- Daphne J. Magturo       
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AboitizLand launches phase 2 of Cebu town home project

Posted on June 30, 2014 09:30:43 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

CEBU CITY -- Aboitiz Land, Inc. (AboitizLand) has placed on the market 30 more town homes and a commercial center under the second phase of its master-planned residential development in northern Cebu City.

Audie Villa, assistant vice-president for sales and marketing, said the aim is to create a complete community with a walkable design.

“There’s no need to travel away for basic necessities. We’ve even included spaces for professionals to practice their craft inside the residences,” he told BusinessWorld.

Pristina North is a 32-hectare gated community in Talamban. The second phase of development includes 30 three-bedroom housing units in addition to the existing 30 units launched in 2011.

A total of 91 terraced town homes are expected to be completed in the second phase of development. Phase 1 of the planned community sold out at 26 units.

Mr. Villa said a commercial and retail center will be at the heart of the development. The commercial space is expected to open with restaurants, cafes, groceries, as well as office spaces.

The housing units, aimed at the AB market segment, will be offered at between P9 million and P13 million. Since beginning the project in 2003, Mr. Villa said that housing investments in Pristina North Residences have appreciated by 166%.

“In 2003, units were valued at P6,200 per square meter. Now, in 2014, we have seen that number almost triple at P16,800,” he said.

“From 2010 to 2014, value appreciation has gone up 37%,” he added.

He said the growth of the middle class in the metropolis has exposed a multitude of problems, ranging from traffic to poorly planned drainage systems.

“That’s why the focus of AboitizLand is to create master-planned communities. Our planning and even property management teams are in constant dialogs with local government units to address these problems and to ensure our designs match with legislation and other requirements,” he said. -- John Paolo G. Bago           
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DOTC readies P271-B railway plan

By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 30, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is set to present to MalacaƱang next month the proposed P271-billion North-South Commuter railway project.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the project would be presented to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board chaired by President Aquino for approval.

The proposed project stretching 89.7 kilometers from Malolos in Bulacan to Calamba in Laguna aims to upgrade and modernize the Philippine National Railway (PNR) in order to provide a safe, reliable, fast and convenient rail transport system.

Abaya explained that the project would use the existing Philippines National Railway (PNR) right-of-way (ROW) through the greater Manila area. It involves the rapid rehabilitation of the existing at-grade PNR railway infrastructure.

According to Abaya, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has expressed interest in undertaking the Malolos in Bulacan to Tutuban stretch involving an elevated railway.

On the other hand, the DOTC chief said the Tutuban to Calamba stretch would be offered to prospective investors via the Aquino government’s public private partnership (PPP) scheme.

“The Japanese (JICA) are interested to do the Malolos to Tutuban line. The Tutuban to Calamba will be under the PPP scheme,” he said,

Abaya pointed out that the winning proponent could expand the rail system by putting up additional rail tracks and bringing in more trains.

Once approved by the NEDA Board, he explained that the government could start the procurement process by publishing the invitation to bid.

Last March, the DOTC and the PPP Center held a  forum to lure investors in major railway projects as part of efforts to give commuters alternative mode of transportation.

The government is looking at increasing urban mass transport ridership to 2.2 million per day by 2016 or 2017 from the current level of 1.2 million per day under the government’s Rail Transport Development Plan.

Under the plan, the DOTC would develop intermodal facilities and at the same time improve transport linkages and efficiency to production and consumption markets.
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Villar’s All Value store chain sets P4.5-B expansion


By Neil Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 30, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines All Value Holdings Corp., led by former Sen. Manuel B. Villar Jr., is increasing its exposure in the  upbeat retail sector in the next two years.

The private retail holding firm of the Villar family will spend as much as P4.5 billion for 15 new one-stop home improvement branches nationwide while also putting up more convenience stores and department stores, its top executive said over the weekend.

“The retail sector is good because the middle class is growing. The gross domestic product also grows well so it’s a good time [to expand],” said Villar.

“I see an explosion in the retail industry and we want to be a part of it,” he said.

All Value, formerly MBV Retail Holdings Corp., committed to open four AllHome branches (Taguig, Sta. Rosa, Imus and Daang Hari) this year, four in 2015 and four to seven in 2016.

The retail firm is spending around P300 million for each AllHome store, translating to an investment ranging from P3.6 billion to P4.5 billion in the coming years.

Villar said the company has identified 25 to 30 AllHome potential sites nationwide, with the rollout depending on operations of existing stores. On Saturday, All Value opened AllHome Taguig, its fifth branch.

Given its wide network of housing projects nationwide, the company intends to open AllHome branches in key cities like Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu and Iloilo, Villar said.

The Villar Group of Companies, particularly through property firm Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc., has been dealing with Filipino consumers for the past three decades.

Vista Land is the country’s largest and most geographically diverse builder of house and lots, so far building 250,000 homes in 33 provinces and 65 cities and municipalities nationwide.

“AllHome is a perfect fit for Vista Land. This will address the cost and strengthen the logistics of Vista Land,” Villar said, adding that AllHome would serve the needs of contractors nationwide.

AllHome is a one-stop shop for all housing needs. It caters to contractors, architects, interior designers and homeowners by offering a wide range of products and services.

For other businesses in the All Value group, Villar said convenience store chain All Day will reach 100 stores by end-2014 from 75 so far.

Villar said All Day would be a “true Filipino convenience store” catering to local taste amid the entry of foreign chains like 7-Eleven, Ministop, Lawson and FamilyMart that have partnered with local companies.

All Value is also putting up three new All Day department stores next year to add to the current five branches, Villar said.

Villar said All Value might list in the local bourse several years down the road when its operations expand.

All Value is backed by a P1 billion capital from the Villar family, with additional funds to be sourced from bank loans, its top executive said.

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Cosco Capital sets 2014 capex at about ₱10 billion

Posted on June 27, 2014 07:56:25 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

COSCO CAPITAL, Inc., the listed holding firm of Lucio L. Co, is due to more than double its capital expenditure (capex) this year to around ₱10 billion, as it targets 20% growth on the back of acquisitions.

Capex in 2013 was only around ₱3.5-4 billion, Cosco President Leonardo B. Dayao told reporters Friday on the sidelines of the group’s annual shareholders meeting at the Acacia Hotel in Muntinlupa.

Mr. Dayao said 3 billion worth of capex this year will go to its retail arm Puregold Price Club, Inc., which will open 25 additional stores this year.

At the end of 2013, Puregold’s store network was 205 after it opened 40 new stores and acquired a chain of 15 stores, with locations in Davao City, Digos, Tagum and Butuan and Bacolod.

Plans are underway for the development of its 2.3-hectare property in Urdaneta, Pangasinan, on which the first of its three community malls will rise.

Cosco is also in talks for the acquisition of land in Laguna and Nueva Ecija for the two other malls, which will carry the brand Cosco Mall.

Construction of the three malls will cost ₱1.2 billion.

Also this year, the company completed its Divisoria 999 Shopping Mall and a commercial building at the Fairview Terraces - a joint project with Ayala Land, Inc.

Its real estate units are Ellimac Prime Holdings, Inc., Fertuna Holdings Corp., 118 Holdings, Inc., Nation Realty, Inc., Patagonia Holdings Corp., and Pure Petroleum Corp.

S&R Membership Shopping, which currently has eight warehouse stores, will be allocated ₱1 billion. It opened stores in Davao City and Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City last year, running ahead of its customary pace of one store a year.

Another ₱350 million will go to its chain of Lawson convenience stores, a product of Puregold’s recent tie-up with Japanese convenience store group Lawson, Inc.

The partners will open 20-30 stores this year, which will eventually accelerate to 80-100 stores annually in the succeeding years, with a 500-store target by 2020.

Puregold contributed 70% to the joint venture, with Lawson taking up the remainder.

The company also spent ₱1.5 billion in March for the acquisition of NE Pacific Shopping Centers Corp., the largest mall operator in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija.

Mr. Dayao said the remaining ₱4 billion in the budget will go to "various corporate acquisitions," but he refused to elaborated.

Its spirits and wine business is also expecting "double-digit growth" this year, according to J P Santamarina, president of subsidiary Premier Wine & Spirits, Inc.

"The new tax regime last year allowed us to introduce brands in price points that were impossible (before)," Mr. Santamarina said.

Cosco entered the low-priced imported segment of the spirits and wine market with the launch in November 2013 of Spanish brand Excelente.

Mr. Santamarina said the company sees this segment growing at a "better rate" as the P100-300 price range per bottle is "very accessible," resulting in better consumer reception.

"Our new ventures on wines and spirits have captured the local middle market and these are projected to grow in the coming years," the company said in its annual report.

Other subsidiaries in this segment are Meritus Prime Distributions, Inc. and Montosco, Inc.

Early this year, the company acquired Office Warehouse, which has 47 stores and is expected to contribute to the growth of Cosco as the latter expands its non-food retail segment.

The group of Mr. Co last year injected some ₱74.8 billion worth of equity in Cosco -- formerly known as Alcorn Gold Resources Corp. -- including a 51% stake in Puregold as well as 100% stakes in various commercial property developers and liquor distributors, and in oil storage company Pure Petroleum Corp.

Cosco’s first quarter net income rose to ₱1.279 billion from ₱3.081 million in the same three months last year as a result of the consolidation of Mr. Co’s various businesses under its roof.

These outsized results are due to the reorganization. Whereas 2013 results reflected only the mining business, financial reports in 2014 will include the results of 12 companies.

Gross revenue rose to ₱19.962 billion from ₱11.134 million a year earlier while costs and expenses increased to ₱2.5 billion from ₱8.954 million.

Cosco shares were unchanged at ₱9.58 in Friday trading. -- Daphne J. Magturo    
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