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

SLI to conduct follow-on offering

August 30, 2019 | 12:06 am [ ]

STA. LUCIA Land, Inc. (SLI) is looking to raise up to P8.40 billion from a follow-on offering within the year to finance its capital expenditures.

In a preliminary prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the listed property developer said it will offer up to three billion common shares to the public, consisting of 2.7 billion primary offer shares and 300 million for the over-allotment option.

At a price of P2.26 to P2.80 each, SLI could raise anywhere from P6.78 billion to P8.40 billion.
SLI expects to net P8.117 billion from the offering, should it completely exercise the over-allotment option and secure the maximum price for each share. About P6.78 billion of the proceeds will go to capital expenditures for new and ongoing projects.

The company will use P820 million for landbanking purposes, while the remaining P517.79 million will go to general corporate purposes. The funds are expected to be disbursed from the fourth quarter of 2019 until 2020.

Most of SLI’s upcoming projects are in Central Visayas, Western Visayas, and the Calabarzon Region. It also has developments in the Davao Region, Soccsksargen, Mimaropa, the Cordillera Administrative Region, and Metro Manila.

The developer’s prospective land acquisitions are also located in the provinces, most of which are in Calabarzon.

SLI tapped China Bank Capital Corp. as the offering’s issue manager, underwriter, and bookrunner.

The company’s public float will reach 26.79% upon listing, with its market cap to rise up to P31.35 billion.

Depending on regulatory approvals, SLI looks to finalize the issue price by Nov. 12. The offer is set to run from Nov. 18 to 29, in time for listing on Dec. 9.

SLI’s registration will need approval from the SEC and Philippine Stock Exchange.

The company earlier said it will spend P20 billion in capex over the next three years to expand its residential and commercial properties in the country.

At the same time, it will launch a combination of 28 residential and commercial projects, in addition to five condominium and hotel projects that could potentially generate P20 billion in reservation sales.

SLI’s net income attributable to the parent doubled to P883.74 million in the first half of 2019, against P432.61 million in the same period a year ago. Gross revenues also grew 70% to P3.496 billion.

Shares in SLI fell 2.05% or five centavos to close at P2.39 each on Thursday. — Arra B. Francia

Suspension of Services in PRC Cebu on 30 August 2019

Posted on 28 August, 2019

The Professional Regulation Commission announces the temporary suspension of services in PRC Cebu on 30 August 2019 (Friday), in observance of the 50th Charter Day of Mandaue City, Province of Cebu.

This is pursuant to Proclamation No. 796 series of 2019, “Declaring Friday, 30 August 2019, a Special (Non-working) Day in the City of Mandaue, Province of Cebu”.

The said office will resume its operations on 2 September 2019 (Monday).

Appointments set on the said date are still valid and will be entertained upon resumption of operations.

Real property tax cut to cost Manila P1B

August 27, 2019 | 9:13 pm [ ]

THE MANILA City government could lose an estimated P1 billion income from real property taxes with the new ordinance reversing a previous incremental increase on rates. However, the administration under Mayor Francisco Moreno Domagoso plans to offset this by improving collection efficiency. “So iko-cope up namin ‘yan (we will cope with that) through efficient and proper (collection of taxes),” City Council Majority Floor Leader Joel R. Chua, one of the principal authors of the ordinance, told BusinessWorld. 

“Naniniwala kasi si mayor na hindi natin kailangan mag-increase, ang kailangan natin maging efficient ‘yung pangongolekta (The mayor believes that we do not need to have an increase, what we need is to be efficient in collection),” he added. City Ordinance 8567, approved by the mayor last Aug. 23, cuts by 20% starting January 1, 2020 the 60% incremental increase in all real property taxes. 

“Kung ano ‘yung inin-crease sa’yo, babawasan ‘yun ng 20%, (What was increased before will be cut by 20%),” Mr. Chua explained. During the signing of the ordinance, Mr. Moreno said he is aiming to increase the city’s tax collection efficiency to 90% from the current 72%. The 60% increase took effect in 2014 based on City Ordinance No. 8330 passed in 2013 under then mayor Joseph E. Estrada. Mr. Moreno previously said the ceiling will be cut further by 10%. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

ALI finalizing joint venture for new projects

August 27, 2019 | 12:05 am [ ]

AYALA LAND, Inc. (ALI) looks to finalize its agreement to develop almost 28,000 hectares of land in the provinces of Aurora and Quezon within the year.

“Last year we signed an MoU (memorandum of understanding) so it’s only [now] that we’re finalizing the JV (joint venture) agreement on that, so we’re hopeful that we can finalize within the year,” ALI Senior Vice-President Jose Emmanuel H. Jalandoni said in a podcast from an August briefing posted on the company’s website.

The listed property developer in May 2018 signed an MoU with businessman Romeo G. Roxas’s Green Square Properties Corp. (GSPC) and Green Circle Properties and Resources, Inc. (GCPRI) for the establishment of a joint venture firm.

ALI will hold majority of the partnership at 51%, while GSPC and GCPRI will collectively own 49%.

The company will then develop 27,852 hectares of land in Dingalan, Aurora and General Nakar, Quezon.

ALI earlier said the project will house tourism, commercial, residential, and institutional components. It will also incorporate environmental and ecological programs to conserve the forest in the area, while also protecting its biodiversity.

Once developed, the development will be added to ALI’s network of 26 estates across the country.

Its newest estate is the 526-hectare Habini Bay in Misamis Oriental, which is being developed in partnership with parent Ayala Corp. The project will consist of an industrial park, seaport, provincial bus terminal, technical school, and a new municipal government center that will complement the planned residential and commercial developments.

ALI generated a net income of P7.8 billion in the second quarter of 2019, 10.4% higher year on year, amid flattish growth in revenues at P43.5 billion.

For the first half, the company’s net income was up 12% to P15.2 billion, on the back of a 4% increase in revenues to P83.2 billion.

ALI is scheduled to issue P5 billion in fixed rate bonds with a tenor of five years this September, as part of its commitment to spend P130 billion in capital expenditures for the year.

The capex will support the construction of existing projects as well as the launch of P130 billion worth of new projects within the year.

Earlier this year, the company also raised P8 billion from the issuance of seven-year bonds with an annual interest rate of 6.369%. This was the first tranche of ALI’s P50-billion shelf registration program filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Shares in ALI were down 0.51% or 25 centavos to close at P48.90 each at the stock exchange last Friday. — Arra B. Francia

Developers urged to tap traditional firms to offset declining demand from BPOs

August 20, 2019 | 12:06 am [ ]

Office demand from business process outsourcing firms has been declining.
By Bjorn Biel M. Beltran
Special Features Writer

OFFICE PROPERTY developers should tap the country’s traditional businesses to complement the continuous growth of offshore gaming operators and offset the weakening expansion of outsourcing firms, a global property services firm said.

According to the latest report from Colliers International, office space demand from business process outsourcing firms (BPOs) in the Philippines has seen a significant decline amid a government-issued moratorium on the processing of Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) applications in Metro Manila and uncertainty regarding the second package of the comprehensive tax reform program, which intends to reduce corporate income tax to foreign investors.

From 361,000 square meters (sq.m.) of transactions from BPO firms in the first half of 2018, the industry closed only 199,000 sq.m. of deals in the same period this year, 45% lower year-on-year.

Meanwhile, Chinese-run offshore gaming operators (POGOs) as well as traditional companies, including firms in the legal, engineering, construction, health care, food and beverage, and flexible workspace sectors, have picked up the slack.

Demand from POGOs continued to grow with office space transactions reaching 274,000 sq.m. in the first half of the year, in areas like Alabang, the Bay Area, Quezon City, Ortigas, Makati central business district (CBD) and its fringes. Colliers projected this take-up to breach 300,000 sq.m. this year, as government relations with China continue to warm, and new business hubs around the country become more accommodating to offshore gaming operators.

Traditional companies tallied at 271,000 sq.m. of office space transactions in 2019’s first half, surging 22% higher than the 222,000 sq.m. it closed in the same period last year. This is also expected to grow as the economy sustains its momentum, and government investment in infrastructure bears fruit.

“As business participants, we should focus on the opportunities now,” Dom Fredrick Andaya, director at Colliers International Philippines, Inc., said in a briefing on August 9.

“There’s the Build, Build, Build program. GDP (gross domestic product) growth came in below expectations, but we’re still hoping that the economy will continue to grow. This will fuel the growth of the traditional sector of the industry. And we’re seeing it. We’re seeing that growing not only in Metro Manila, but also in other locations in the Philippines.”

Mr. Andaya further noted that increasing demand from traditional firms would encourage tenant diversity in the property market and reduce the risks from over dependence on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators to drive demand.

Traditional firms and POGOs represent an equal share of 74% of all transactions in the office market, with outsourcing firms accounting for the remaining 26%.

Leasable office stock is projected to reach 14.3 million sq.m. in two years, around 31% higher than Metro Manila’s available stock of 10.9 million sq.m. as of the end of 2018. About 54% of the new supply will be in Ortigas Center, Fort Bonifacio, the Bay Area, as well as emerging sites in Cebu, Iloilo, Clark, and Davao.

Rents in Metro Manila are expected to rise by an annual 6% this year to 2021 as a result, as firms compete for PEZA-approved office space and limited supply.
Colliers saw an office vacancy rate of 4.9% in the previous three months, lower than the 5.4% recorded in the first quarter following substantial absorption of office space in Quezon City and Ortigas CBD and its fringes. Annual vacancy is expected to become 6.1% from the current year to 2021, equivalent to an annual supply of 1.08 million sq.m. and yearly net absorption of about one million square meters.

In the residential property market, sustained demand in both pre-selling and secondary condominium markets have encouraged the entry of upscale and luxury joint ventures developed by local and foreign companies.

These joint projects, though relatively expensive with total contract prices per unit ranging from P7.6 million to P31 million, have an average take-up rate of nearly 90% as of the first half of the year.

“Aside from the capital appreciation potential, investors and end-users are enticed by upscale facilities, innovative concierge services, and the advantage of being in a master planned development. We see strong take-up from similar projects in Metro Manila being sustained over the next three years and thus project more aggressive launches from both local and foreign developers,” Joey Roi Bondoc, senior research manager at Colliers International Philippines, Inc., said in the report.

Among the major foreign firms that either expanded or established their presence in the country through joint projects with local players are Hankyu Realty Co., Ltd., Mitsui Fudosan, and Nomura Real Estate Development Co.

In the previous three months, Colliers recorded the completion of 2,600 residential units, bringing the total of completed units in the first half of the year to 6,300. Condominium stock in Metro Manila was at 125,150, with the property experts projecting it to reach 128,050 by year end. Fort Bonifacio and the Bay Area is seen to account for nearly 80% of the new supply from 2019 to 2021.

The completion of new units pushed overall vacancy in Metro Manila to 10.6% in the second quarter of 2019. This is expected to reach 11% per annum until 2020 due to the significant number of new projects in the pipeline. However, leasing activities is seen to remain firm in sub-markets housing POGOs in the Bay Area, Ortigas Center, Makati CBD, and its fringes.

Offshore gaming is also expected to sustain modest rental growth in Metro Manila, growing at around 0.9% annually from this year to 2021.

Meanwhile, capital values in the metro grew by an average of 3.7% quarter on quarter, with average prices of prime three-bedroom units in the secondary market in Makati CBD, Rockwell Center, and Fort Bonifacio ranging between P145,000 and P362,000 per sq.m. Overall, the average price of residential units in Metro Manila are seen to rise by an annual average of 5.2% from 2019 to 2021.

Senate seeks to impose more hurdles on farmland conversion process

August 25, 2019 | 9:55 pm [ ]


A MEASURE adding regulatory hurdles to the conversion of irrigated and irrigable agricultural land to residential, industrial and commercial zoning has been filed in the Senate.

Senator Francis N. Pangilinan, with Senate Bill No. 256, or the proposed “Agricultural Land Conversion Ban Act,” said he was seeking to preserve farmland to ensure food security.

Mr. Pangilinan said some 100,000 hectares worth of agricultural land has been converted between 1988, when Republic Act (RA) 6657, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, was implemented, and 2016.

He cited data from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) showing that 80.6% of approved land conversions were in Luzon; 7.8% in the Visayas, and 11.6 in Mindanao.

“We need farmers to feed the country. Farmers need farmland to feed the country,” he said in a statement Sunday.

The bill amends RA 7160, or Local Government Code, by requiring applicants to obtain certifications from the Department of Agriculture (DA), DAR, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and local government units.

“This additional requirement before the grant of a conversion permit is to ensure the suitability of the conversion of an agriculture lot. This is timely due to the unbridled land conversion, legal or otherwise,” Mr. Pangilinan said.

The certification from the DA should include a finding that the land has ceased to be economically feasible for agricultural purposes.

The DAR, for its part, will certify that the land is not due for distribution or programmed for distribution to agrarian reform beneficiaries; while the DENR will indicate if the proposed reclassification is ecologically sound.

At present, the Law only provides that agricultural land be reclassified by the LGUs through an ordinance, or by the President, upon recommendation of the National Economic and Development Authority.

The new measure will also penalize violations with fines ranging from P150,000 to P300,000; and imprisonment of not less than six years.

For already-completed buildings or infrastructure, the property is liable to b confiscated for public use or auction. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Local property stocks tumble as China wants Philippines to ban all forms of online gambling

August 23, 2019 | 12:05 am [ ]

INVESTORS unloaded stocks in some of the country’s top property developers on Thursday, amid worries that China’s crackdown on online gambling will dent the rising demand for office space and condominiums fueled by Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) and their Chinese workers.

The property counter was the biggest loser out of six sectoral indices at the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) yesterday, losing 1.78% or 73.28 points to 4,034.69.

This came after China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang urged the Philippines to ban all forms of online gambling, even as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. already suspended the issuance of new licenses to POGOs.

China claimed that hundreds of millions of yuan have been flowing out of the country illegally due to online gambling.

“Investors started selling down their property stocks on speculation that the possible POGO ban will be detrimental to the bottomline of developers,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Equity Analyst Anna Corenne M. Agravio said in a mobile phone message.

Megaworld Corp., one of the country’s largest office space tenants, saw its shares drop 8.51% or 45 centavos to close at P4.84 each.

Shares in SM Prime Holdings, Inc., whose office spaces are mostly located in the Bay Area —the preferred location of POGOs — also slid 1.96% or 70 centavos to P35 apiece.

Ayala Land, Inc., who earlier said their exposure to POGOs is less than 10%, was not spared as share prices shed 0.71% to P49.15 each.

Other players also saw their shares decline: DoubleDragon Properties Corp.’s were down 0.21% to P23.60; D.M. Wenceslao & Associates, Inc.’s retreated 4.57% to P9.40; while Filinvest Land, Inc.’s decreased by 2.33% to P1.68.

“Should the government push through with banning the POGO industry, major property developers will have the rising demand from the IT-BPM and traditional office industry to fall back on. This won’t fully correct the loss of revenues from the POGOs, but will at least partially offset it,” Ms. Agravio said.

Real estate consultancy firm Colliers International Philippines noted that POGOs currently occupy about 970,000 square meters (sq.m.) of office space in Metro Manila. This is projected to breach the one-million sq.m. mark before the year ends.

“That’s about 8% of the total leasable space in Metro Manila, hence raising the Metro Manila office vacancy to 12.9% from the current 4.9% if POGOs leave the country,” Colliers Senior Research Manager Joey Roi Bondoc said in an e-mail.

Mr. Bondoc noted that other tenants such as traditional offices and business process outsourcing (BPO) firms could fill the void should POGOs leave the country.

“These demand drivers may not easily fill the additional 8% vacancy but given the sustained pace of office take up, overall vacancy should still be at sub-10%,” Mr. Bondoc said. — Arra B. Francia

Manila slashes maximum realty tax hike by 20%

August 23, 2019 | 12:32 am [ ]

MANILA CITY Mayor Francisco “Isko” M. Domagoso has approved a local law that reduces by 20% the maximum increase in real property tax rates next year.

City Ordinance No. 8567, which cuts “incremental real property taxes due all classes of real properties,” takes effect on Jan. 1.

“… [T]here is a need to adopt a more progressive, equitable revenue system to help our taxpayers from [sic] the detrimental effects of economic downturn,” the ordinance read. “This may be achieved through a further reduction in the ceiling on the corresponding increase in the tax levy from 60% by 20% based on the incremental values of real properties under Ordinance No. 8330 (2014 General Revision of Real Property Assessments).”

Hence, the ordinance read, “any tax increase… shall be at the rate of 48%…” provided that “total amount of tax to be paid on land, buildings and other structures and machineries used for residential, commercial, industrial and special classes shall, in no case, be more than double the tax imposed in 2013 over the same real property.”

Mr. Moreno said on Aug. 9 that the ceiling will be cut further by 10% yearly till 2022.

“The City of Manila will lose about a billion pesos pero hindi… natalo ang Manila. Bakit? Nakinabang taga-Maynila (but Manila will not lose. Why? Because citizens of the city will benefit),” he said on Thursday.

RA 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991, requires real property tax rate adjustments every three years. This requirement is largely ignored, as local officials are elected very three years as well. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

POGO slowdown seen triggering ‘healthy’ property correction

August 21, 2019 | 10:14 pm

THE licensing freeze on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) as well as China’s planned crackdown on online gaming will reduce the attractiveness of the Philippines as an investment destination, and will lead to an easing in property prices, analysts said.

“This could reduce the influx of POGO workers that pushed prices and lease rates higher… especially for residential, office, and commercial properties,” Michael L. Ricafort, economist at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., said in a text message.

On Monday, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) said that is suspending acceptance of applications for offshore gaming licenses pending a review of the operations of POGOs. PAGCOR Chairperson and Chief Executive Andrea D. Domingo said the suspension will give the agency time to address all issues that have emerged from the industry’s operations.

PAGCOR has also floated proposals to relocate POGOs to what it calls “self-contained hubs,” as a safety measure for Chinese workers amid concerns some POGOs might also be in a position to facilitate spying on key government installations.

The proposal drew a sharp rebuke from the Chinese embassy, which expressed fears that the relocations might infringe upon the rights of Chinese citizens.

“Any reduction in the influx of Chinese POGO workers will lead to a healthy correction in real estate prices/lease rates after the government stopped accepting new applications for POGOs,” Mr. Ricafort said.

He also cited China’s crackdown on online gaming, which is viewed as a workaround for gambling, which is prohibited in China, and the Philippine government’s increased efforts to tax POGO workers.

Colliers International Philippines estimated that office rents will rise 6% annually until 2021, while residential rents are expected to rise 0.9% over the same period.

Overall, Mr. Ricafort said he does not expect a major impact on the economic relationship of the Philippines and China since both have maintained a “friendly diplomatic relationship,” which paved the way for the growth of the POGO sector in the Philippines.

Michael R. Mabutol, president and managing director of Pinnacle Real Estate Consulting Services, said that both office and residential markets are “perfectly cushioned” since expansion is based on actual demand and not speculation. Although the slowdown in take up of POGO firms may impede growth, there are still other occupiers, like Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firms and multinational companies.

“On residential, the 4-6 million housing backlog coupled with steady demand from OFWs and young professionals could sustain the growth,” he added.

Asked to comment, Ateneo Policy Center senior research fellow Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco said that the Philippines still does not have a clear and coherent China policy and that the country’s officials do not have a unified way of viewing China issues.

“Some administration officials (are) giving Chinese intrusion into our territory the benefit of the doubt. Some are more concerned, calling out the wave of Chinese “visitors” as possibly weakening our national security. Some are raising the alarm that we are being bullied at sea, while some are still touting China as a trusted financier for our development aspirations,” he noted.

He described this as a “schizophrenic approach” to dealing with China.

“Filipinos will just have to wait for this administration to present a clear and coherent China policy. Until then, we should expect inconsistent reactions and tepid responses to whatever China does,” he added. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang

DAR distributes over 120 hectares to Quezon coconut farmers

August 19, 2019 | 12:04 am [ ]

THE Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said it distributed 120.5 hectares of land to 50 coconut farmers in San Francisco, Quezon.

The certificates of landownership award (CLOA) were given to the farmers, who are also agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program extension with reform (CARPer). They are former coconut farm workers of private landholdings.

The land was formerly owned by members of the Matias family — Mario, Michael, and Moises, is located in Barangay Silongin and Barangay Casay in Quezon province.

“As owners of the land, farmers will be freed from the burden of paying rentals for the use of the land and from fear of getting ejected as tenants,” DAR Regional Director Rene E. Colocar said in a statement.

Republic Act No. 9700, or CARPer, extended the deadline for acquisition and distribution of agricultural land to farmers for five years after 2008. This was signed into law in August 2009 and was set to expire June 30, 2014, but any pending cases as of that date were allowed to proceed until resolution. Beneficiaries include landless farmers, agricultural lessees, tenants, as well as regular, seasonal, and other farm workers.

The five-year extension was allocated a budget of P150 billion from the Agrarian Reform Fund, the General Appropriations Act (GAA), and other sources. This is the largest annual budget in the history of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“The DAR, Department of Agriculture (DA), the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) and other CARP-implementing agencies coordinate with each other to ensure that program beneficiaries will have a better life after receiving their land titles,” Mr. Colocar said.

“Now that you own the land, be responsible and make it productive and progressive. We at the DAR will provide you with support services to help you achieve this,” he added. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang

Property firms report higher Q2 earnings

August 19, 2019 | 12:05 am [ ]

 Anchor Land Holdings, Inc. is partnering with the local government of Parañaque City for a mixed-use development project. -- COMPANY HANDOUT

PROPERTY developers generated mostly higher earnings in the second quarter of 2019 due to strong sales and leasing revenues, as well as lower project costs.

Sta. Lucia Land, Inc. (SLI) saw its net income jump 225% to P545.27 million in the second quarter, following a 105% increase in revenues to P2.23 billion.

This brought SLI’s net income 104% higher to P883.74 million in the first half, while revenues grew 70% to P3.35 billion. Real estate sales alone surged by 98%.

“Remarkable sales take up of projects launched during the year, boosted efforts in increasing the real estate sales and extensive expansion had increased the recognized sales during the period,” the company said.

Rental income, meanwhile, slipped 7% as SLI re-evaluated its lease rates in order to be more competitive with neighboring malls.

SLI develops mostly horizontal projects in provinces across the country, including a 97-hectare masterplanned community in Davao City called Las Colinas Verdes.

Meanwhile, Rockwell Land Corp. booked a 15% increase in its attributable profit to P563 million for the April to June period, even as revenues slipped 27% to P3.44 billion, according to a regulatory filing.

On a six-month basis, the listed firm’s net income attributable to the parent rose 26% to P1.28 billion, while revenues dropped 14% to P6.93 billion.

The Lopez-led company said the dip in revenues was mainly due to the lower construction accomplishment of luxury residential condominiums Proscenium in Makati and The Vantage in Pasig. It also recognized lower sales in The Grove in Pasig, resulting to a 23% decline in the sale of condominium units.

Rockwell’s leasing portfolio helped offset the weakness of its residential segment, as higher occupancy rates in Power Plant Mall Expansion, RBC Sheridan, and Santolan Town Plaza led to a 27% increase in commercial development revenues to P1.18 billion.

Luxury condominium developer Anchor Land Holdings, Inc. (ALHI) posted a 43% increase in net income attributable to the parent to P182.32 million. Revenues were also up 10% to P1.42 billion.

For the first half, ALHI’s attributable profit went up 34% to P310.45 million, after a 20% uptick in revenues to P3.04 billion.

Real estate sales rose 13% as the company saw more sales and higher construction rates for its projects such as Admiral Baysuites, Admiral Grandsuites, Anchor Grandsuites, Anchor Skysuites, and Copeton Baysuites, among others. Most of the company’s projects are located in the Bay Area and Binondo in Manila.

ALHI also benefited from the expansion of its rental operations through commercial units and warehousing facilities. Rental income then climbed 27%.

Most listed property firms delivered higher results in the second quarter, driven by continued demand from both end-users and investors.

For instance, Ayala Land, Inc.’s attributable profit was up 10.4% to P7.8 billion for the quarter; SM Prime Holdings, Inc.’s attributable net income grew 16% to P10.5 billion; while Robinsons Land Corp. posted a 22% increase to P2.17 billion. — Arra B. Francia


Ayala unit launches P16-B One Vertis Plaza

August 16, 2019 | 6:22 pm [ ]

One Vertis Plaza, located in Vertis North in Quezon City, is Ayala Land Premier’s first office project. — COMPANY HANDOUT

By Arra B. Francia, Senior Reporter

THE luxury residential unit of Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) is venturing into its first office-for-sale project with the launch of the P16.1-billion One Vertis Plaza in Quezon City.

Ayala Land Premier (ALP) said Friday that it has already sold 65% of the 43-storey office tower, or about P10.6 billion. The average selling price of each square meter (sq.m.) has risen 20% to P352,000 by August, from its launch price of P269,000 per sq.m. in June 2018.
With office spaces ranging from 101 to 325 sq.m., each unit costs about P28 million to P114 million. The tower has a net saleable area of 60,784 sq.m., excluding the five topmost floors which ALP is keeping for itself.

The tower will provide 19 elevators, six basement parking levels, and one service lift. The company is likewise applying for LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Gold certification.

ALP Head of Sales and Marketing Paolo O. Viray said floor buyers include local firms in the manufacturing and industrial sector, food, and pharmaceutical businesses. Companies involved in real estate and professional services have also bought small office units.

“Our market includes corporations looking for headquarter space in Quezon City, established companies looking for a place or needing an extension of their office in the north, and people already in the north that are upgrading,” Mr. Viray said in a press briefing in Makati Friday.

He added that more than 50% of the buyers are end-users, while the rest are investors.
Construction for One Vertis Plaza is now ongoing, with target completion by the second quarter of 2024.

One Vertis Plaza is located at the southern most tip of Vertis North, ALI’s 45-hectare mixed use estate in partnership with the National Housing Authority. It will stand next to a two-hectare green park, and will be surrounded by several retail establishments, Ayala Malls Vertis North, and the 438-room Seda Vertis North hotel.

“Vertis North presents a lot of value given the future infrastructure projects we expect to be available in the next few years,” Mr. Viray said, referring to the Metro Rail Transit Line 7 and the Metro Manila Subway.

ALI is spending P65 billion over a 10-year period for the estate’s development.

Meanwhile, ALP said it remains on the lookout for land banking opportunities for more office projects in the future.

“We continue to look for opportunities given the success of this project…We’re quite selective given the expectations for ALP and needs of the high-end market,” Joseph Carmichael Z. Jugo, ALP managing director, said in the same briefing.

Megaworld eyes P12 billion in sales from Pasig residential condominium

August 16, 2019 | 12:10 am [ ]

MEGAWORLD Corp. is aiming to generate P12 billion in sales from three residential towers in its Arcovia City township in Pasig City.

The listed property developer said in a statement that it will launch Arcovia Palazzo, a residential complex composed of three towers, namely the 40-storey Altea Tower, 45-storey Benissa Tower, and 49-storey Cantabria Tower.

The entire complex will offer 1,472 residential units sized up to 32 square meters (sq.m.) for studio, up to 46.5 sq.m. for one-bedroom, up to 77 sq.m. for two-bedroom, and up to 193.5 sq.m. for three-bedroom.

The company will likewise sell bi-level units for one-bedroom and two-bedroom configurations, offering up to 107 sq.m. and 139 sq.m., respectively.

Amenities include an infinity pool with pool deck, pavilion, jacuzzi, game room, fitness center, daycare center, outdoor seating lounge, children’s playground, function rooms, and a multipurpose lawn. The towers will also feature retail spaces in the ground level.

Arcovia Palazzo is scheduled to be completed by 2025. It will be the second residential project inside the 12.3-hectare Arcovia City, located along C-5 Road in Pasig City.

Megaworld last year unveiled the 37-storey 18 Avenue de Triomphe, offering 576 units worth a total of P4 billion. It noted that the project is “almost sold out,” and will be completed by 2023.

So far, only commercial establishments are operating in Arcovia City. The township houses a Landers Superstore and the Arcovia Parade commercial area, as well as a 19-meter high arch monument called Arco de Emperador by Spanish sculptor Gines Serran Pagan.

Megaworld will be building a museum next to the arch, in a bid to draw more people into the area.

The company of billionaire Andrew L. Tan has committed to spend P35 billion to develop Arcovia City in a span of 10 years, as it looks to add more office, residential, retail, and lifestyle components in the estate.

This is part of the 24 estates under Megaworld’s network, which is seen to rise to 30 by end-2020.

Megaworld booked a net income attributable to the parent of P4.5 billion in the second quarter of 2019, 15% higher year on year, on the back of a 20% increase in revenues to P16.8 billion.

This pushed the company’s attributable profit 16% higher in the first half to P8.3 billion, with revenues of P31.7 billion. — Arra B. Francia

PHINMA Properties returns to luxury market

August 13, 2019 | 12:01 am [ }

PHINMA Properties marked its return to the luxury market with the launch of Likha Residences in Muntinlupa City.

In a statement, Phinma Properties said it recently broke ground on Likha Residences, a high-end development offering 68 townhouses with three and four-storey options.

Angelo Mañosa, architect and principal designer of Mañosa & Co., Inc., combined contemporary design with the eco-friendly elements of the “bahay kubo” for Likha Residences.

“My vision for Likha Residences is to design a home that’s accommodating, spacious, and livable for its residents,” he said.

With this new project, Raphael B. Felix, president and CEO of PHINMA Properties, said: “We have set a new benchmark for our future properties.”

House committee OK’s corporate tax cut

August 15, 2019 | 12:32 am [ ]

A SECOND key tax reform — which slashes corporate income tax rates but also streamlines investors’ perks — hurdled a committee of the House of Representatives a day after another measure, which raises alcohol products’ excise tax rates, bagged approval from the same body.

The proposed alcohol tax hike was approved in plenary session on second reading on Wednesday evening.

The House Ways and Means committee on Wednesday approved House Bill No. 313, or the proposed “Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Reform Act,” or CITIRA, (in the past Congress, called the “Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-quality Opportunities” or TRABAHO), invoking Rule 10 Section 48 of House rules that allows priority bills that bagged third- and final-reading approval in the preceding Congress to “be disposed of” sans public hearings.

“Since this is a priority bill of the House and of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, I invoke the Rule 10 Section 48 of the House Rules… I hereby move that this be disposed,” said Nueva Ecija 1st district Rep. Estrellita B. Suansing, who is the committee’s vice-chairperson.

By law, tax measures originate in the House, although Senate leaders have said they will hold parallel hearings in order to expedite action on bills deemed priorities.

The head of the Senate Ways and Means committee said the panel on Thursday will start consideration of remaining tax reforms.

TRABAHO was among those identified as priority by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22 and was one of 28 measures identified as key to improving the country’s business climate by 14 local and foreign chambers on July 30, eight days after the 18th Congress convened for its first of three regular sessions.

Principally authored by Albay 2nd District Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda, who heads the Ways and Means committee as chairman, HB 313 seeks to cut the current 30% corporate income tax rate — described as the highest among major Asian markets — by two percentage points every other year to 20% in 2029, “provided… that the President may advance the scheduled reduction… when adequate savings are realized from the rationalization of fiscal incentives…”

In his explanatory note, Mr. Salceda said the bill aims to attract more foreign direct investments by bringing down the corporate income tax rate to lower levels enforced by the Philippines’ closest competitors in Southeast Asia, and ensure that such perks lure investments that create jobs, transfer technology and benefit less developed areas of the country.

Perks now offered to economic zone locators consist of a four- to eight-year income tax holiday; a special tax rate of five percent on gross income after the ITH period expires; tax- and duty-free importation of capital equipment, spare parts and supplies; exemption from wharfage dues as well as export tax, duty, impost and fees; and eased restrictions on employment of foreign nationals.

The Finance department estimates that such incentives cost the government about P1.2 trillion between 2015 and 2017 — P301.2 billion in 2015, P380.7 billion in 2016 and P441.1 billion in 2017. The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) — which last year had the second-biggest value of committed projects after the Board of Investments — accounted for P879.1 billion, or 78%, of the P1.2-trillion total.
Among others, HB 313 removes the option for investors to avail of the five percent gross income tax, caps the ITH at five years and will subject those who enjoy preferential rates to the regular corporate income tax rate. It also provides a schedule of amount of interest paid or incurred that may be allowed as deduction from computation of gross income.

It also grants fiscal incentives only to exporters and industries listed in the Strategic Investments Priority Plan, taking into account substantial amount of investments, employment generation, use of new technologies, adequate environmental protection systems, promotion of competitiveness, addressing of gaps in the supply or value chain and value-added production of micro, small and medium enterprises.

The measure also authorizes the President to grant incentives to a project that has a “comprehensive sustainable development plan” and brings in “at least $200 million.”

The House ways and means committee on Tuesday approved HB 1026, which proposed to increase the excise tax rate on alcohol products, also invoking House Rule 10 of Section 48.
The bill will increase to 22% from 20% the ad valorem tax on the net retail price per proof of distilled spirits, and the specific tax to P30 per liter from P23.40 currently. The specific tax rate will rise by P5 every year until it reaches P45 in 2022, after which it will increase by seven percent annually beginning 2023.

Sparkling wines, meanwhile, will be levied with a 15% ad valorem tax per liter, which is not imposed under the present system; in addition to a P650 specific tax per liter in 2020, which will likewise increase by seven percent annually.

The House in the 17th Congress that ended in June had approved all tax reform packages, but many of them failed to bag Senate approval.

The government has so far enacted Republic Act No. 10963, which slashed personal income tax and increased or added levies on several goods and services; RA 11213, which offers estate tax amnesty and amnesty for delinquent accounts that remained unpaid even after being given final assessment; and RA 11346, which will gradually increase excise tax on tobacco products to P60 per pack by 2023 from the current P35.

In his latest SONA, Mr. Duterte also asked the 18th Congress to approve proposals to increase excise tax rates for alcohol products and e-cigarettes, centralize real property valuation and assessment, and simplify the tax structure for financial investment instruments.


Senator Pia S. Cayetano, Ways and Means committee chairperson in the Senate, said in a statement on Wednesday that an Aug. 15 “meeting will focus on the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program” and has invited the Department of Finance, which will be represented by Undersecretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua who will brief lawmakers on tax reforms Mr. Duterte mentioned in his SONA.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III had said that tax measures should be approved by Congress within 15-18 months, since lawmakers are expected to be distracted by preparations for the May 2022 national, legislative and local elections starting in 2021.

Moody’s Investors Service said last Friday that while “[t]he strong pro-administration majority in both houses of the legislature enhances the prospects for further reform… the government has a comparatively short window of about two years to pursue its legislative agenda.”

“We expect campaigning to detract attention away from reform in the year prior to the next general election scheduled for 2022,” Moody’s had said.

Business groups and state investment promotion agencies like PEZA have warned of the negative effect any move to change incentives could have both on prospective investors and expansion plans of those already operating in the country.

The central bank reported on Tuesday that foreign direct investment (FDI) net inflow reached $3.145 billion as of May, dropping 37.1% from $5.002 billion in last year’s first five months. That compares to the central bank’s $10.2 billion projection for this year.

From a record high of $10.256 billion in 2017, FDI net inflows dropped 4.4% to settle at $9.802 billion last year.

State economic managers like Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia have asked Congress for laws that will ease restrictions on foreign ownership and participation in various sectors, deemed the steepest in Southeast Asia. — Charmaine A. Tadalan with input from V. A. C. Ferreras

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