Travellers’ profit hits P5.4b
By Jenniffer B. Austria | Mar. 20, 2015 at 11:10pmhttp://manilastandardtoday.com/2015/03/20/travellers-profit-hits-p5-4b/
Travellers International Hotel Group Inc., the owner and operator of integrated gaming and entertainment complex Resorts World Manila, said net income in 2014 doubled to P5.45 billion from P2.73 billion in 2013, despite the 5.4-percent decline in revenues.
Travellers said in a financial report with the stock exchange net revenues declined 5.8 percent to P29 billion in 2014 from P30.84 billion a year ago, as a result of lower gaming revenues and reduced contribution from hotel and food and beverage business.
Gross gaming revenues in 2014 reached P28.376. billion, down 5.4 percent from P30 billion it booked in 2013.
“The decline in gaming revenue is a function of the decline in volume, particularly in the VIP segment as there was a deliberate move in holding less tournaments and focus on growing the core customer base,” Travellers said.
Revenues from hotel, food, beverage business fell 9.5 percent in 2014 to P2.26 billion from P2.502 billion in 2013.
All hotels in the Resort World complex registered higher occupancy rates in 2014. Maxims posted an occupancy rate of 89 percent; Remington, 91 percent and Marriott, 83 percent.
“Creating shareholder value was our main objective for 2014 which we achieved through quality earnings and operating efficiencies,” Travellers president Kingson Sian said in a statement.
The company’s financial condition, however, remained strong with total assets rising to P63.9 billion from P61.2 billion a year earlier while total liabilities declined to P24.8 billion from P27.8 billion.
The company said it remained on a net cash position at P4.4 billion as of end-2014.
Travellers’ spent P5.9 billion in 2014 for the phase 2 and phase 3 of Resorts World Manila.
The Marriott Grand Ballroom is set to formally open in July this year, while the Marriott west wing, which will add 227 room keys, is due for delivery by the end of 2015.
Phase 3 is slated for turnover by the end of 2017.
Travellers also subscribed to 95 percent of the increased authorized capital stock of Resorts World Bayshore City Inc., the company that will build and operate the Bayshore City Resorts World in Entertainment City in Parañaque.
Anya offers investors 5-year annual yield
By Manila Standard Today | Mar. 20, 2015 at 05:40pmhttp://manilastandardtoday.com/2015/03/20/anya-offers-investors-5-year-annual-yield/
Real estate developer Roxaco Land Corporation recently offered a guaranteed annual yield for 5 years to all resort unit buyers of Anya Resort and Residences its latest project in Tagaytay, Cavite.
“Investors usually buy into the traditional vacation home mindset, not realizing the hidden costs that come with the purchase, such as periodic maintenance costs,” said Santiago R. Elizalde, executive vice president of Roxaco. “With Roxaco’s business model, the unit is basically paying for its own upkeep.”
Each Anya unit comes with a Certified Condominium Title and earnings are paid out according to square meter ownership. Since the units are considered included in the resort hotel inventory, any additional earnings made are divided in a 45-55 split between the investor and the hotel owner, respectively.
The guaranteed yield program is spread across five years, with the payout pegged at 6% for the first year, 7% for the second year, and 8% each for the remaining three years. Roxaco also sees capital appreciation to reach 10%, compared to the regular rate of 5% to 7% per annum due to future cash inflows. One can buy into this unique investment program for as low as P7.85 million.
How Robinsons Galleria Cebu got its design
Posted at 03/21/2015 7:30 AMhttp://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/03/20/15/how-robinsons-galleria-cebu-got-its-design
MANILA – Vernacular or native architecture was used as inspiration for Robinsons Galleria Cebu, which is Robinsons Land Corp.'s (RLC) biggest mall outside Metro Manila.
RLC said Robinsons Galleria Cebu incorporates aspects of the local culture in its building design.
“Vernacular architecture is the inspiration for the front retail paseo albeit with a modern interpretation…This is a modern take on the ‘village feel’ that prevails throughout Cebu’s landscape,” said Robinsons Malls general manager Arlene Magtibay.
Magtibay said the layout and architecture of the Cebu mall was suited to match the relaxed, congenial and sociable nature of the Cebuanos.
“Robinsons Galleria Cebu’s design is in keeping with Robinsons’ vision to elevate and create a new shopping experience,” Magtibay said.
“Angular shapes were employed throughout the development to create dynamic spaces and interesting zones. The paseos have indoor and outdoor components. The outdoor component offers an al fresco experience where pedestrians can meander, as well as lounge, dine, appreciate the sights, and breathe in fresh air while under the shade created by the terraces and balconies above,” she added.
Its 4-floor commercial building will house Robinsons Supermarket, Department Store, Food Court, Cinema, True Value hardware, Robinsons Appliance Center, as well as outlet stores of key local and international brands.
RLC said the vernacular design of the mall will be enhanced by stores that carry distinctive Cebu brands and restaurants serving popular local or homegrown favorites.
Robinsons Galleria Cebu is located on a 4.7 hectare lot along General Maxilom Avenue in the North Reclamation Area.
RLC envisions the mall to reinvent, revitalize and increase property values in an area of Cebu City that was previously underutilized.
Shades of gray: Haze in Metro Manila
What's behind the haze episodes in Metro Manila?
Published 8:00 AM, Mar 21, 2015
Updated 8:00 AM, Mar 21, 2015http://www.rappler.com/science-nature/environment/87244-shades-gray-haze-metro-manila
MANILA, Philippines – Almost every morning, Metro Manila looks like it's under the curse of dementors from the Harry Potter series: a thick blanket of gray haze – sometimes in darker shades – envelops the cityscape, threatening to swallow the metropolis.
While the government's air quality monitoring sites have been reporting "Good" to "Fair" status from its 12 stations, an experimental station at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman recorded at least two haze events since the start of 2015.
The Atmospheric Physics Laboratory of the UP Institute for Environmental Science and Meteorology (UP-IESM) headed by Dr Gerry Bagtasa recorded haze episodes at noon of January 29, and in the morning of March 14.
Post by WeatherManila.
The science of air pollution
Haze episodes happen when fine particles suspended in the air obscure light. Scientists said that the haze seen enveloping Metro Manila can also be called smog, or the combination of smoke and fog, indicating the presence of pollution in the air.
Dr Ronald Macatangay, head of the Climate and Atmospheric Radiation (CARBON) laboratory at UP-IESM, explained in an interview that air pollution is a combination of various gases such as sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, surface ozone (which is also the main component of smog), as well as particulates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), among others.
Sulfur oxides, especially sulfur dioxide, come from burning coal and petroleum. Nitrogen oxides are produced during high-temperature combustion. Carbon monoxide comes mainly from the exhaust of vehicles, and from burning coal, wood, and natural gas.
Meanwhile, ozone could be either good or bad, depending on its location in the atmosphere, said Macatangay. The ozone layer that we know is the "good" ozone, as it traps ultraviolet radiation from the sun; on the other hand, surface ozone, or the ones produced by VOCs and nitrogen oxides and is found in the much lower portion of the atmosphere, is "bad."
Measuring air quality
Air quality is usually measured using Particulate Matter (PM) and Total Suspended Particulates (TSP) as indicators.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) monitors PM2.5, PM10 and TSP.
PM2.5, particles smaller than 2 micrometers, are the most dangerous type of pollutant particles. They are small enough to enter the bronchial tubes of the lungs which could lead to severe respiratory diseases, said Tess Peralta, an engineer at the Environmental Management Bureau of DENR, in an earlier report.
PM10, are smaller than 10 micrometers and slightly larger than PM2.5, and can also be inhaled. It is small enough to settle in the bronchial tubes and the lungs, and could also lead to respiratory infections.
Meanwhile, TSP are bigger than 10 micrometers and could also be inhaled. These are the dirt that usually settles in the nostrils.
The UP-IESM Atmospheric Laboratory recorded a surge in PM2.5 in UP Diliman around noon January 29, while its CARBON Laboratory saw a sudden increase in local carbon dioxide levels.
Their reports said sea breeze pushed the air along coasts inland and produced a westerly wind over Metro Manila. This wind opposed the prevailing amihan (northeast monsoon) at the same time, which led to the stagnation of air; this helped accumulate local emissions in the area.
Another haze episode was recorded Saturday morning, March 14. Bagtasa said on the Weather Manila page on Facebook that it was due to a phenomenon called "inversion," where a layer of warm air overlaps an area of cold air. This causes the temperature to increase in the higher elevations and causes the accumulation of vehicular emissions brought by Friday night traffic.
Inversion usually happens early in the morning, said Bagtasa in an interview.
However, their data deviated from that of DENR-EMB's mainly because of two factors: the IESM laboratories compute the air quality based on an hourly averaging system, while the DENR-EMB computes the average for every 24 hours.
In addition, the DENR-EMB's equipment are very high-precision types, while Bagtasa's equipment was assembled out of low-cost materials and was established for experimentation purposes.
Manila Observatory Air Quality Division head Dr James Simpas said in a separate interview that depending on the location where the monitoring equipment is located, measurements could also differ. When the equipment is on the roadside, the measurement is higher, Simpas said.
Effects of air pollution
Yet, while government data show that the air quality within Metro Manila remains safe, prolonged exposure even to smaller quantities of pollution could still harm people's health. Among the adverse effects of air pollution are cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and even cancer.
Other than health implications, air pollution also affects the weather, said Macatangay.
"Pollution in the atmosphere can delay rain, affect rainfall amount, and atmospheric stability," said Macatangay.
Bagtasa explained further, "Nade-delay ang ulan to later in the afternoon, nagiging mas malakas." (Rain gets delayed to later in the afternoon, and becomes stronger.)
In some areas, the type of precipitation, such as snow or hail, could also be affected.
Haze is more common during the dry season (December to May) as the land has lower moisture content which could lead to more dust present in the atmosphere.
Simpas said that during the dry season, the lowest possible emissions and therefore highest air quality could be measured during Good Friday and during Manny Pacquaio's fights. Records from these days could be used as the baseline data on air quality in Metro Manila.
Bagtasa also said that Filipinos have a quite low "perception of threat" of air pollution and that the correlation of air quality to weather forecasting is not explored as much.
Simpas and Bagtasa are among the scientists who are part of the Manila Aerosol Characterization Experiment (MACE 2015), a collaborative study to be conducted by the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) based in Leipzig, Germany, UP-IESM, the Manila Observatory, De La Salle University, and the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute.
The study, which is set to run from March to May 2015, intends to measure vehicular emissions and find how it contributes to air pollution. Measurements will be done along Katipunan and Taft avenues.
In an earlier report, DENR-EMB said that around 80% of the dirty air in Metro Manila comes from motor vehicle emissions while the remaining 20% comes from stationary sources like construction sites and industries. – Rappler.com
Can $300 billion buy Egypt a new capital?
By Shadi Bushra and Yara Bayoumy, Reuters
Posted at 03/22/2015 8:32 AM | Updated as of 03/22/2015 9:58 AMhttp://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/03/22/15/can-300-billion-buy-egypt-new-capital
CAIRO - It is a project as ambitious as Egypt's ancient pyramids.
Built from scratch to escape Cairo's choking pollution, a planned new capital will feature an airport larger than London's Heathrow, a building taller than Paris's Eiffel Tower and more than 10,000 km (6,200 miles) of boulevards, avenues and streets.
The city, meant to be built within just seven years, was unveiled last week at the Sharm El-Sheikh economic summit, where President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urged foreign investors to help Egypt recover from the turmoil triggered by the 2011 uprising.
But the plan was not universally welcomed, with residents of Cairo questioning the need to replace their 1,000-year-old capital with a shiny new city that, if it ever rises from the nearby desert, will rely heavily on Gulf Arab financing.
"If we need to move some buildings and some government employees, that's fine. But buildings don't make a capital, history does," said Amr Karim, a doorman at one of Cairo's art deco buildings in the Agouza district.
A number of countries conjured up new capitals in the last century, such as Brasilia in Brazil, which was founded in 1960, Canberra in Australia, founded in 1913, and Astana, which became the administrative centre of Kazakhstan in 1997.
Egypt's ambitions are on an even larger scale.
Its new capital is eventually designed to cover some 700 sq km (435 sq miles), roughly the size of Singapore, contain 1.1 million homes and create 1.75 million jobs, according to its promotional website.
It will also cost some $300 billion to complete, according to Mohamed Alabbar, the United Arab Emirates real estate tycoon who helped develop the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai and who is leading the mega Egyptian venture.
To put that in perspective, the CIA handbook says Egypt's total gross domestic product in 2013 was $262 billion.
After removing Islamists from power in 2013 and becoming president a year later, Sisi has announced a raft of proposals, including an expansion of the Suez Canal, promising to usher in a new era of prosperity for Egypt's 90-million strong population -- some nine million of whom are estimated to live in Cairo.
With Cairo's roads permanently clogged by bumper-to-bumper traffic and its housing crisis so acute that tens of thousands of people live among the tombs of the city's necropolis, the possibility of starting with a clean slate seems appealing.
But it is not a new idea, and the precedents are worrying.
Ill-conceived 'new cities' have sprung up on the outskirts of Cairo before, only for many to end up largely empty or just housing the super-rich, with a lack of infrastructure and transport deterring ordinary people from relocating.
"This will only be for the wealthy," said electrician Mohamed Hassan, 27, sitting at a cafe in a run-down Cairo neighbourhood. "For us, we will just continue eating fava bean and falafel sandwiches," he added referring to the staple diet for most of Egypt's myriad poor.
Some Cairenes say the cash would be better spent on improving basic infrastructure in a country where more than one in four people live in poverty, according to U.N. data.
"I haven't heard about the new capital. How can we afford a brand new city when we can't afford new roads or schools?" said Mosaab Mansour, a student at a gym in a trendy Cairo district.
"Who's going to pay for it? The Gulf? If they pay for it, then it's their capital. We'll just be renting it."
RALLYING THE PEOPLE
The glossy images on the project website bear a much closer resemblance to wealthy Dubai than they do to chaotic Cairo, with lots of green spaces promised and a theme park planned that will be more than six times the size of Disneyland in California.
Egyptian officials say the city will be built to the east of Cairo, away from the Nile river and on the road leading to the Suez Canal. An initial phase, costed at some $45 billion, is set to cover 135 sq km.
The authorities have promised to start work within weeks and Sisi, aware that street protests have helped bring down two presidents in just four years, is anxious for swift results in a country renown for its sluggish bureaucracy.
"Not 10 years, or even seven years," the president told Alabbar last week in comments captured on video.
Urban planners say for now the project is fuzzy about what kind of infrastructure will tie the new capital to Cairo -- a major flaw that has doomed other 'new cities' -- and question how many people will actually relocate.
Yahia Shawkat, an urban policy researcher with an independent thinktank, said Egypt had already spent $8 billion on 21 new city projects in the last 30 years with mixed results.
"There has not been any meaningful population movement ... and the average occupancy rate is about 20 percent," he said.
But investment banker Ahmed El-Houssieny, CEO of Planet Investments, disagreed with the many naysayers, arguing that it was "a great cause to rally people around", especially because it was meant to create a large number of jobs in a country where unemployment stands at about 13 percent.
Responding to criticism that moving the capital will take away from the historical significance of Cairo, with its ancient Islamic architecture, mosques, Citadel and bazaars, he said:
"You have lots of great cities that have been able to drive traffic away from the centre and still maintain the capital's glory," he told Reuters, stressing that the new city would be an administrative centre that would not detract from Cairo.
Clothing store owner Rami al-Rafie was also optimistic.
"This is a great idea, it's been a great idea since it was proposed years and years ago," he said, referring to past plans to shift major ministries away from downtown Cairo.
"The Gulf, the Europeans, the Chinese all know that Egypt is a good place to invest... I hope they use some of that investment to make this new capital as beautiful as Dubai, God willing."