Author Topic: CCGA Realty sponsored Real Estate News  (Read 51508 times)

Offline PinoyBroker

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Re: CCGA Realty sponsored Real Estate News
« Reply #45 on: November 24, 2015, 06:02:25 PM »
Alabang West almost sold out, says GERI

By Zinnia B. dela Peña (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 30, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Global Estate Resort Inc.’s 62-hectare masterplanned community Alabang West is about 80 percent sold, less than a year after its launch.

In a statement, GERI said more than two-thirds of the total 788 residential lots offered had been sold, due to the strong demand for the project.As a result, land prices in Alabang West rose 20 percent to P56,000 per square meter from P47,000 in October last year.

Rachelle Peñaflorida, vice president for sales and marketing at Megaworld Global-Estate Inc., said the fast take-up of village lots in the township could be attributed to the project’s strategic location and brighter prospects for fast value appreciation of the property.

“There has been a sharp rise in the demand for residential lots in Alabang West in the past six months. As far as location is concerned, Alabang is not just an option but top-of-the-mind to many property buyers especially those who are looking into the south,” Peñaflorida said.

Earlier this year, independent research firm Cuervo Far East said the Southern Manila West Growth Area, which includes Alabang, has been experiencing a remarkable average annual appreciation of property values by 10 to 15 percent until 2019 due to new developments by the biggest real estate developers in the country.

“We have even exceeded the average annual appreciation forecast, which is a good indication of the property market in Alabang, especially for Alabang West. The entry of our township into this booming side of  southern Metro Manila is a perfect timing,” Peñaflorida said.

Alabang West integrates a Beverly Hills-themed lifestyle into its commercial, retail and residential developments. Aside from a shopping strip inspired by the famous Rodeo Drive in Hollywood, Alabang West also offers an upscale residential community with lots ranging from 250 to 800 sqm.

It first-class amenities that include badminton and basketball courts, function halls, cabanas, game room, café and al fresco dining areas, a fitness center, pocket gardens, open parks and infinity pool, among others.

“In the next five to ten years, we envision Alabang West to be the next big thing in southern Metro Manila,” Peñaflorida said.

Located beside Alabang’s high-end communities and golf course, the township is accessible through major access points in South Luzon Expressway, including Alabang Exit, Filinvest Exit, and the newly-opened Daang Hari Exit.
Honoring tenant partners in the first SM Partners Summit

Updated October 29, 2015 - 4:30pm
MANILA, Philippines – SM partners and tenants gathered together to celebrate SM Supermalls’ 30th year leading the retail industry through the first ever SM Partners Summit.
Participants were treated to a forward-looking conference for retail industry players and business owners that provided practical and inspiring knowledge through discussions of new and innovative ways to elevate the customer experience into a memorable one. The two-day summit included a Retail Summit forum and SM Partners Awards Night, and was held at the SMX Convention Center of the Mall of Asia Complex.
With the market’s adaptation to digital shopping, traditional retail businesses find it important to keep with the consumer’s growing needs and demands for shopping experience beyond the brick-and-mortar concept. To create a venue for deep discussion among retailers and business partners, SM leveraged on this big idea for the forum “Bricks Click: Creating the New Marketplace".
Invited retailers and tenants had the opportunity to gain insights from esteemed guest speakers including entrepreneur and inspirational speaker Francis Kong, Disney Institute Regional Business Development Manager Wing-Hoe Tan and Samsung Electronics Vice President for Online David Kang. Panel discussions further elaborated the topics, with executives and veterans of known companies such as Samsung, Max’s, McDonald’s and Google contributing their insights and business experiences.
Kong explained that a business should learn to utilize social media and technology not to compete with the traditional way of retail, but to enhance and further develop its reach. Technology, according to Kong, is not the competitor of traditional retail, but its complement.
Tan stressed in his speech that positive results and customer delight root from company culture, from how they treat their customers to how they treat their own employees.
“An organization must cultivate the same internal customer service within their employees, gauged with the same intentionality as how they do with their external ones. It is not written on any handbook; rather, it is already imbibed in the employees’ hearts and minds to provide exceptional service,” Tan said.
Kang ended the session with his emphasis on how technology heavily influences consumers’ decisions, but in the end, the brick-and-mortar shops are still their preferred way of shopping for their desired products.
There were over 1,000 participants who attended the summit, hailing from businesses in the Philippines and abroad, all pioneers and heads of SM’s valued tenant companies.
On the second day of the summit, key partners and tenants have been recognized by SM for their exemplary performance in the SM Partners Awards Night. There have been 54 brands honored with the Most Innovative Store Design Award, SM Green Retail Award, Most Popular Brand Award, Best in Marketing Award and Top Partners Award. 
SM congratulated the award recipients, and invited its retail partners to join them in facing the challenges and opportunities of the evolving retail landscape.
The Partners Summit gives honor to the excellent performance of well-loved brands in the retail industry. SM thanks and recognizes its retail partners and tenants for their continuous support in the years to come, taking the customer experience to greater heights.
Holcim profit more than doubles in Q3

By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 30, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Listed construction materials company Holcim Philippines Inc. reported a more than two-fold jump in its third quarter profit on the back of sustained activity despite the rainy season.

Net income in the July to September period surged to P1.53 billion from P721.96 million in the same period last year.

Holcim Philippines attributed the growth to effective cost management coupled with improved plant and logistics performance.

Eduardo Sahagun, Holcim Philippines CEO, said the company’s plants could now operate longer before undertaking maintenance activities.

“Demand usually dips during the rainy season but this time, we experienced even stronger demand in the third quarter. Under these conditions, it is critical to sustain operations to support the market and we did so due to the steady investments for better plant performance,” Sahagun said.

Sahagun said logistics operations also improved with more flexibility to supply the National Capital Region through its newly acquired Holcim Manila Terminal.

Net sales rose by 23.2 percent to P10 billion in the third quarter.

The company said cement demand was healthy nationwide but was strongest in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Sahagun said the company expects to continue the positive momentum in the fourth quarter but declined to give specific net income and sales targets.

Holcim Philippines operates four cement plants in La Union, Bulacan, Misamis Oriental and Davao along with several ready-mix concrete plants nationwide.
More state firms expected to turn the corner

By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 30, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Governance Commission for Goverment-owned and controlled corporations (GCG) expects further improvement and enhancement of state-run firms given the recent reforms implemented in the last four years.

GCG chairman Cesar L. Villanueva said the future for the GOCC sector “looks promising” amid the policies and guidelines being put into place since President Aquino signed RA 10149 or the GOCC Governance Act of 2011 into law.

“We have evolved the governance commission to what it is today, an effective tool in order to pursue and institutionalize corporate governance in the public sector,” Villanueva said.

Since the GCG’s creation in August 2011, the agency has introduced various policies and procedures from regulatory compliance to ethical standards for GOCCs, except economic zone authorities, those under the central bank, and research institutions.

Villanueva stressed the GCG has espoused strengthening the role of the government in the governance of state-owned firms.

“In the past year alone, the governance commission has undertaken the basic steps for the oversight over the GOCC sector by establishing a tier framework and concrete structure for oversight of GOCC operations,” he said.

Villanueva said the GCG is also in its third year of implementing the performance agreement structure, which mandates the GOCCs to submit concrete and time-bound action plans and which would be used to for their own evaluation.

“All these we have done to well position the GOCC sector for sustained long-term success,” Villanueva said.

The GCG to date has abolished and privatized more than 20 state-owned firms found inactive, non-operational, and whose functions are no longer relevant to the state.

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Re: CCGA Realty sponsored Real Estate News
« Reply #46 on: November 24, 2015, 06:02:54 PM »
Hitachi strengthens PH presence, sees role in planned Manila subway

by Bernie Magkilat
October 29, 2015
Tokyo — Hitachi Ltd., world’s leading social innovation company, yesterday said it has started discussions with the Philippines for the planned Mega Manila Subway as it eyes opportunities in other areas including power to bring its social innovation business thrust to mega cities in newly industrialized economies like the Philippines.

Hitachi Chairman & CEO Hiroaki Nakanishi revealed at a press conference for the Hitachi Social Innovation Forum 2015 here that there has been discussions on the planned Metro Manila subway.

With its expertise in the railway business, Nakanishi cited the company’s advantages to participate in a railway project.

“We’ve already started discussions making feasibility studies. In the case of the railway system, Hitachi has a clear advantage on all facilities not just in terms of locomotive vendor, but  locomotive signal, electric supply and train management,” he said.

There were no details yet as to the extent of their planned participation in this ambitious subway project, but Nakanishi said next step would be the formulation of a feasibility study for the project.

In reviving its interest in the country, Nakanishi cited the rapid growth of the Philippine economy and the leadership of the current administration.

“The current momentum of the Philippine economy is very strong so we changed our view of Philippines almost five years ago,” he said citing  new opportunities to make “more clear partnerships.”

He recalled that during his earlier trips to the country, the Philippines was just a simple manufacturing site but which has been transformed into a bustling economy with rapid  industrialization.

He also cited of the flexibility of the domestic industries and the booming construction sector.

Other than the transportation sector, Nakanishi cited other areas of interest particularly the power grid in the country.

“I am very much interested in the future grid of the Philippines because of the specific structure of the country as it is composed of so many islands and this need some kind of infrastructure . . . this is one area we are vey much interested in,” he added.

For its other businesses, Nakanishi said that it has just started its white goods business like the refrigerators and air conditioners or the lifestyle business with the aim of strengthening its presence in this segment. These products are imported from its manufacturing sites in other ASEAN countries.

On Tuesday, the Philippines and Japanese governments have advanced their cooperation efforts to improve transport infrastructure in Metro Manila through a roadmap aimed to establish a modern and efficient transportation network taking off from the NEDA Board-approved Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metropolitan Manila and its Surrounding Areas.

The Cooperation Roadmap for Quality Infrastructure Development in the Transport Sector in Metropolitan Manila Area is intended to steer the development programs and projects, as well as harmonize efforts on transport projects in Metro Manila.  It is also meant to guide the development of policies, design, and prioritization of transport-related projects in the short-, medium-, and long-term.

As part of the Joint Declaration for Strengthened Strategic Partnership signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during President Aquino’s state visit to Japan in June 2015, a “Cooperation Roadmap” called for the convening of a Ministerial-Level Committee, which held its first meeting today, to review the progress of projects assisted by Japan.

The meeting, co-chaired by Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan and Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhide Ishikawa, specifically involved discussions on studies being undertaken by Japan International Cooperation Agency for the possible implementation of the Mega Manila Subway and New Manila International Airport projects.

Also tackled were the Metro Manila Priority Bridges Seismic Improvement Project, the Exchange of Notes and Loan Agreement for which were signed on 25 August 2015, and the North-South Commuter Railway Project (Malolos- Tutuban), the Exchange of Notes and Loan Agreement signing for which are expected to be signed in the near future.

In an earlier interview, Atsushi Konno, Hitachi’s General Manager for Corporate Communications Group, said Hitachi is keen on participating in the Philippines railways with special interest on the planned monorail project of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) that will connect the neighboring business districts in the metropolis.

Konno said they have a good advantage in the planned monorail because Hitachi has a good track record in the railway business.

“We are keen in the Philippines. We are looking at railways because that is one of our core businesses and the Philippine  government has some railway projects,” said Konno. Konno cited opportunities in the existing railways and the new ones. The Philippines has identified railway projects in the country for implementation under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme.

According to Konno, Hitachi’s thrust is to do more business outside of Japan because the local economy is not doing very well.

So far, Hitachi’s business is 50 percent Japan and 50 percent overseas. He expects, the share of Asian business to grow more as the company puts more focus especially in the southeast Asia region.

He cited that countries in the region are improving existing infrastructure and building new ones.

“We can contribute to their growth and they have young population,” he said.

Hitachi has been doing business in the Philippines since the 1930s when it first deliver a 60HP hydro turbine to a power station in Davao. In 1960, the Japanese firm started to bring its other business units into the Philippine market.

At present, Hitachi has 11 companies or business units and affiliates in the Philippines employing a total 2,733. Its biggest ASEAN operation is in Thailand with 35 companies and 12,900 employees followed by Indonesia with 20 companies and 4,980 employes, Malaysia with 35 companies and 4,182 employes, Singapore with 29 companies and 3,563 employees, Vietnam with 9 companies and 1,541 workers and Myanmar with a lone company with 80 employes.
Meralco digs deeper into renewable energy

By Danessa O. Rivera (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 30, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s biggest power distributor, is actively pursuing renewable energy (RE) projects as part of plans to diversify its power generating portfolio.

Meralco president Oscar S. Reyes said they are in discussions with developers of RE projects which include solar, wind, run-of-river, other hyro projects and gas.

“We have various talks on project proponents with wind, solar, on run-of-river, other hydro projects and potentially on gas,” he said.

“These are the things that we are looking at because we do not want to be a one fuel generator, we would like to spread the risks from different types of plants,” he added.

Last July, Meralco chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan bared plans of spinning off new unit for RE investments, a separate entity from the group’s power generating unit Meralco Powergen Corp. (MGen).

MGen is building a portfolio of up to 3,000 megawatts (MW) of new power capacity, mainly from baseload power plants, to address the growing energy demand in the country.

Meralco will initially target solar, particularly solar rooftops, in its thrust in the RE sector, Pangilinan said. “Not just utility grade solar but we will start probably with rooftops,” he said.

Solar-powered rooftops are seen as a big threat to the distribution business of Meralco, which counts over 5.7 million customers within its franchise area.

Pangilinan noted entering the solar market will allow Meralco to disrupt its own business, a more preferable scenario than other companies doing so.

“We think of it as a future threat so we will be the first to disrupt ourselves because if we don’t do it, others will do it for us. So rather than have somebody kill us, we might as well kill ourselves because it will be more fun,” he explained.
Customs collections decline to P32.6B in September

By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 30, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Depressed import prices pulled down the Bureau of Customs’ revenue collections by more than a fifth last month, although the agency remained optimistic it could meet its target by year-end.

In a statement, Customs said it collected P32.65 billion in September, down 0.8 percent from last year’s P32.9 billion and was also 20.6 percent lower against the P41.109-billion target for that month.

The figures are based on the final tally for September. Last week, preliminary figures obtained by The STAR showed the bureau collected P32.1 billion in September.

 “Over-all the decline in collection was driven by a drop in the total value of imports,” Customs commissioner Alberto Lina said.

According to BOC data, total import values dipped 1.8 percent, which offset the increase in import volumes by 17 percent.

By value, oil import values fell 32.4 percent, while those for non-oil shipments grew 5.5 percent. By volume, the former increased 20.6 percent, while the latter rose 16 percent.

Import costs and volumes are directly proportional to Customs revenues, whereas higher valued and number of goods are charged higher levies and vice-versa.

The increase in import volumes were not enough to offset the lower values, data showed. For oil imports in particular, revenues plummeted by almost a third in September.

For the first nine months, oil collections decreased 32 percent from last year, but breached the target by 11.7 percent as Customs adjusted targets in light of price developments.

Global oil prices have tumbled by an average of 48 percent over the past 12 months on the back of weak demand and supply glut. Specifically, the Dubai crude price, the benchmark for the Philippines, has decreased to $46.14 per barrel from $97.

Meanwhile, non-oil collections rose 11.3 percent in September and 13.2 percent in the first three quarters. Against its nine-month goal, the non-oil segment was behind 18 percent.

The bureau did not provide absolute amounts on oil and non-oil collections.
World Bank recommends: Open up shipping, rice, telecommunications sectors

By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 30, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The World Bank is urging the country to open up its telecommunications, shipping, and rice industries to more competition locally and internationally to increase competitiveness and attract more foreign investments.

Karl Kendrick Chua, senior country economist of the World Bank Philippine Office, said the three industries have the potential to create more jobs if only the country could improve the quality of their service and lower prices.

“These are the sectors wherein the costs are somehow prohibitive, negative to the quality of service you get,” Chua said.

In the telecommunications sector, Chua said the country’s Internet costs are among the highest in the region but consumers also get the lowest speed.

In shipping, it is currently way more expensive to ship between local destinations in the Philippines than if one were to ship from a foreign port, Chua noted.

“This is one reason why agriculture produce from Mindanao are having a hard time getting to the markets in Luzon or Visayas,”  he said.

The World Bank likewise believes the country’s  agricultural  sector  has  been underperforming  for  over  30  years now,  characterized  by  low  growth  and  productivity,  and high  food  prices.

Chua said calamities like typhoons have further emphasized the vulnerability of the country’s rice industry.

“We have to pay for that through the very high price of rice. This high food cost translates of course to high minimum wage, translates to high cost of manufacturing, and high cost of inputs for agribusiness or food manufacturing, therefore eroding the competitiveness of Filipinos,” he said.

For his part, National Competitiveness Council co-chairman Guillermo Luz said there are five areas -- energy and power, infrastructure, agriculture, education, and regulatory processes – that need special attention to further boost the country’s competitiveness.

“We are still stuck in a lot of red tape, we are still stuck in a bureaucratic maze as far as regulations are concerned,” Luz said.

“I think  we need to look at more opportunities to streamline e-governance, for more automation, for more business-friendly and user-friendly ways of interacting with customers, investors, and with citizens,” he added.

Luz also underscored the country’s need to revisit existing laws and regulations.

“I think we have far too many. We probably need to sit back, assess them, and do a regulatory impact assessment so we can begin to repeal some laws which are no longer necessary,” Luz said.
Revisiting the rustic charm of Tagaytay Highlands

By Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 30, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - In the highest elevations of temperate Tagaytay City lies a premier living and leisure destination that speaks of exclusivity and luxury – Tagaytay Highlands.

Just an hour’s drive from Metro Manila, residents and visitors get to experience the cool winds, misty mornings and the countryside charm of Tagaytay Highlands. Located 2,500 feet above sea level, the breathtaking view of the lush mountain ranges and the renowned Taal Lake and Taal Volcano make it a cut above the rest.

Tagaytay Highlands homes are divided into three parts: Highlands, Midlands and Greenlands. The Highlands is a network of exclusively themed residential communities set amidst the stunning views of the Taal Lake and cool atmosphere of Tagaytay lush mountains. The Midlands is a variety of themed communities inspired by architecture and culture from different countries while Greenlands stands for the shade of abundance, hue of vibrancy and the color of the highlife.

In terms of residential establishments, Tagaytay Highlands offers Katsura, a 14-hectare Japanese-themed residential community inspired by the great Katsura Palace of Kyoto which speaks of elegance and simplicity.

This exclusive sanctuary nestled within the lofty peaks of Tagaytay Highlands combines traditional and contemporary Japanese homes with steep angled roofs.

Located at the Midlands, Katsura has 241 lots with sizes ranging from 250 square meters to 538 sqm and price ranging from P4 million to P9 million with one of its best features, the Koens, which are pocket gardens scattered throughout the area.

Meanwhile, in one of Tagaytay’s highest elevations lies the Woodridge Place which embodies Tagaytay Highlands’ trademark of exclusivity. Woodridge Place offers mountain top condo living in its 2.26-hectare land where two 11-story towers, Mahogany and Linden, can be found.

Both towers have one to four bedroom units with sizes ranging from 41 sqm to 253 sqm and cost P5 million to P33 million. Mahogany Tower has three parking levels and 64 units while Linden Tower has 113 units and one parking level.

The towers boast of the facets of design from elegant mountain resorts around the Colorado Rockies, its east-west axis angle that maximizes natural daylight and ventilation, high-speed elevators, 100 percent emergency power supply, fire alarm, smoke detection system, and water heating and sprinkler system.

On the other hand, a contemporary hilltop haven, an idyllic community and laid-back charm of living is what residential village Aspenhills provide. The 27-hectare neighborhood inspired by the happy and colorful summer of Aspen in Colorado is located at the Highlands.

The low density community follows the ranch and mountain lodge type of architectural designs with a combination of the rustic charm of wood and the contemporary touches of glass and stone. Lots are available from 300 sqm to 800 sqm sizes worth P4 million to P11 million while construction costs a minimum P4 million.

Residents and owners of properties in the Tagaytay Highlands get to enjoy exclusive perks such as membership at the Tagaytay Highlands Country Club and amenities including two golf courses, sports center, horseback riding ring, animal farm, cable cars, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rides, among others. It also boasts a wide array of more than 20 restaurants that offer cuisines from almost all parts of the globe.

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Re: CCGA Realty sponsored Real Estate News
« Reply #47 on: November 24, 2015, 06:04:04 PM »
Belle profit jumps 80% to P1.1B

by James Loyola
October 30, 2015
Belle Corporation reported a net income of P1.1 billion for the first nine months of 2015, higher by about 80% compared to recurring net income of P631.1 million in the same period last year.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Belle said this is excluding a non-recurring P1.2 billion reversal of provisions for probable losses by its Premium Leisure Corporation (PLC) subsidiary in 2014.

Belle realized operating revenues of almost P4.0 billion due to its strong operating performance; the Company has already paid a total of Php 2.9 billion in cash dividends to its shareholders during 2015.

Belle’s operating revenues of P4.0 billion for the first nine months of 2015 were approximately 150 percent higher than its operating revenues of P1.6 billion for the same period in 2014.

The firm’s operating growth in 2015 was attributable to higher revenue from its lease of the City of Dreams Manila property to Philippine entities controlled by Melco Crown Entertainment Limited (MCE), higher income from sales of real estate and increased income contributed by its listed subsidiaries – PLC and Pacific Online Systems Corporation.

PLC’s operations during 2015 were highlighted by the grand opening of City of Dreams Manila on February 2, 2015. PLC has an operating agreement with MCE that accords it a share of gaming revenues or earnings at City of Dreams Manila.

Belle’s principal assets include land and buildings located at PAGCOR Entertainment City in Paranaque City, which are being leased on a long-term basis to MCE.

This property is the site of the City of Dreams Manila gaming and resort operations, which encompasses 6.2 hectares of land and more than 30 hectares in building gross floor area.

Belle also realizes a share in earnings from City of Dreams’ gaming operations through its 78.7 percent-owned subsidiary, PLC.

Belle also owns significant real estate assets in and around Tagaytay City, consisting of premium residential properties for sale and approximately 800 hectares of land held for future development.
Meralco eyes Pampanga distribution utility

By Danessa O. Rivera (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 31, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Electic Co. (Meralco), the country’s biggest electricity retailer, is eyeing another distribution utility (DU) in Pampanga continuing the expansion of its distribution network in other areas of the country.

“We’re looking at DUs in the provinces. [It’s] quite a number we’re looking at,” Meralco chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said.

“Probably another Pelco (Pampanga Electric Cooperative),” he added.

Securing a new DU will likely take place next year, Pangilinan said.

Data from the National Electrification Administration (NEA) showed there are four electric cooperatives (ECs) in Pampanga, namely: Pampanga Rural (Presco), Pelco I, Pelco II and Pelco III.

In 2014, Meralco slowed down on acquisitions to focus on the rehabilitation of a debt-ridden electric cooperative in Pampanga, Pelco II.

Last year, it signed a technical services agreement with Comstech Integration Alliance Inc. for the investment and management contract of Pampanga Pelco II as authorized by the NEA.

Comstech manages and operates the said Pampanga EC.

Meralco has been tapped to upgrade the power distribution system of Pelco II, distributor of electricity to the city of Mabalacat and towns of Guagua, Bacolor, Sta. Rita, Lubao, and Porac.

Meralco’s entry into Pelco II was firmed up after it acquired 60 percent of Comstech last February.

Last Sept. 30, Pelco II has settled its outstanding obligation with state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) amounting to P1.095 billion.

Following this development, Meralco resumed exploring opportunities and talks with potential DUs and ECs, company president Oscar S. Reyes said earlier.

The power distributor has been scouting for opportunities on growing its electric distribution area in North Luzon and South Luzon through acquisitions of ECs and private DUs.

Currently, Meralco’s franchise area covers over 5.7 million customers in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite and Rizal, as well as certain areas in Batangas, Laguna, Pampanga and Quezon.
Local firm bids out contract for P1.2-B hydropower development

by Myrna Velasco
November 1, 2015 (updated)
Local firm United Holdings Power Corporation (UHPC) has auctioned the project contract for the electro-mechanical equipment of its proposed P1.2-billion hydropower development in Bukidnon that will yield a capacity of 8.4 megawatts.

UHPC business development officer Marti Sandino Espenido has noted that they cornered four European bidders, namely: Andritz Hydro; Wasserkraft GmbH; Global Hydro Energy; and WKV (Wasserkraft Volk AG).

“Proposals are being reviewed. The target for awarding is December (this year).” Espenido has told reporters.

For the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract of the project, those eyed for tenders are: Sta Clara International; JV Angeles Construction; Meralco Industrial Engineering Services Corporation (Miescor); and Phesco Incorporated.

“Bidding will be next month (November), awarding is targeted by December or latest by January,” Espenido stressed.

The blueprinted hydropower facility will draw its water usage from the Maladugao River in Kalilangan, Bukidnon province.

Company officials have so far noted that the detailed engineering design (DED) of the project was completed earlier this month by Meadowland Developers, Inc.

The project already had its financing arrangement closed with BDO, hence, paving the way for a construction timeframe that may kick off by the first quarter of next year.

UHPC has emphasized that for the electricity output of the hydro plant, it already has provisional authority from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for its off-take agreement with First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative.

Espenido noted that beyond augmenting Mindanao’s power supply, the project will also “benefit a big part of the local community” in terms of livelihood and other economic opportunities.

The proposed hydro plant is also envisioned for expansion of 15.7MW to which the project sponsor intends to firm up after the completion of the Upper Maladugao hydropower venture.
There is hope

HIDDEN AGENDA By Mary Ann LL. Reyes (The Philippine Star)
Updated November 1, 2015 - 12:00am
The monster traffic jams that Metro Manila residents are subjected to every single day result from our government’s failure to prioritize infrastructure investments.

And slowly, this traffic problem is scaring away foreign investors. After all, traffic means lower productivity, and which investor wants that?

With less than a year remaining for the Aquino administration, this government seems to have had a realization that if it wants to leave a legacy, it cannot be this.

And so for 2016, the budget department is asking 28 percent more for infrastructure spending. Meanwhile, the finance department is looking at tapping the domestic capital market to finance the various public-private partnership (PPP) projects, 10 of which have already been awarded since 2010 while 14 are up for bidding, of which 13 are expected to be awarded before June next year.

 With the huge backlog in the implementation of the PPP program, many seem to have given up on this supposed flagship program of the Aquino administration.

But as they say, better late than never.

Just recently, the last hurdle preventing the turnover of the operation and management of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway to the private sector has been overcome when the President finally signed last Oct. 16 the supplemental toll operations agreement for SCTEX.

According to reports, SCTEX has already been turned over by the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) to the Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC), which has been operating SCTEX for a number of years now, albeit on a temporary and short-term basis. But formal turnover will still be on Nov. 5.

The turnover came after MNTC was declared the winner of the price challenge conducted by government and following the company’s upfront cash payment of P3.5 billion.

Under the agreement, MNTC will operate and maintain SCTEX for 31 years up to 2046, while sharing on a 50-50 basis with government the gross revenues from toll fees.

Following the formal turnover, MNTC will take care of all the O&M expenses while BCDA will continue to shoulder the debt-servicing requirements of the JICA loan.

MNTC plans to spend P1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of SCTEX over the next three years, which is on top of the P700 million it will spend for integrating the tollroad with the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), which MNTC also operates.

It has been reported that MNTC has acquired new top-of-the-line equipment to make the toll road’s systems up-to-date. The company also plans to improve the traffic management system, to install CCTV cameras, to upgrade signages, and to put up a state-of-the-art traffic control center.

All these have been affirmed by Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) president Mon Fernandez, who said that the signing by the President of the STOA will enable MNTC to modernize SCTEX and integrate it with NLEX, to allow for “world-class seamless travel” for Luzon motorists and commuters, and will shore up Metro Pacific Investment Corp.’s leadership role in the domestic toll road industry. MPTC is a wholly owned subsidiary of MPIC while MNTC is owned by MPTC.

MNTC’s O&M contract for SCTEX was approved as far back as during the Arroyo administration, but was not implemented because the BCDA wanted a renegotiation. MNTC submitted a much improved offer in 2013 but it was only last February when government finally signed the contract to turn over the toll road to SCTEX.  But actual turnover was delayed because of the failure by President Aquino to immediately sign the STOA.

According to MNTC president Rodrigo Franco, SCTEX’s integration with NLEX is expected to be finished by March of next year. He explained that the P700-million integration project would simplify the two expressways’ toll collection system and reduce the number of toll collection plazas between them.

 Let us hope that the President’s act in finally signing the STOA for SCTEX will mean that other delayed projects will finally be implemented.

 MNTC’s much-awaited NLEX-SLEX Connector Road, which is expected to reduce travel time from NLEX to SLEX to just 15 minutes, is still awaiting a Swiss Challenge, which must first be approved by the NEDA ICC and the NEDA board. And then there is also this need to redesign the road’s alignment after it was found out that the North-South Railway Project which just got NEDA board approval will use the same PNR tracks.

 Why the ICC keeps shelving the matter of the Connector Road project’s Swiss Challenge is a big mystery.

 Imagine, all these trucks that use up all our roads to get from the South to the North disappearing because they have an alternative route. And of course, the resulting Manila port decongestion as other ports such as those in Batangas and Subic can be easily accessed.

That is how important this project is.

And of course, there are the other projects of the Metro Pacific group, which will also help ease traffic congestion such as the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) and

the NLEX C-5 Link Project or Segment 8.2 Road, a 7.85-kilometer road extension from Mindanao Avenue to Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, both of which are awaiting full delivery by government of the road right of way.
Separate wheat from the chaff

Just last week, we reported that former House Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella and his wife, Sangay Mayor Evelyn, have found themselves facing the same issues against them all over again after a certain organization has filed a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman for plunder in connection with alleged ill-gotten wealth.

But the issues raised in this new complaint are old. In fact, in 2004 and in 2012, the Tanodbayan and its successor the Ombudsman dismissed complaints filed against the Fuentebellas involving exactly the same issues.

Presentacion, Camarines Sur Mayor Jimmy Delena was quoted as saying that this new case is obviously politically motivated and aimed at destroying the reputation of the Fuentebellas.

With the elections just around the corner, expect cases upon cases being filed with the Office of the Ombudsman against public officials, many by their political opponents.

The Ombudsman, and of course, media should be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

As I have said, while the Supreme Court has already ruled that double jeopardy does not apply where the Ombudsman dismissed a case during preliminary investigation against respondent public officer, preliminary investigation not being part of trial, rehashed complaints should be treated like garbage and thrown into the dustbin.

Not all complaints/complainants are the same. The Office of the Ombudsman should not allow itself to be used as an instrument for witch-hunting as well as for harassment because it would be a waste of time and resources.

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Subic Bay port revenues up 55% to P99M in September

By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star)
Updated November 2, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said revenues from its port grew 55 percent in September to P99 million from P63 million in the same month last year due to higher port leases and buildup in its number of ship calls.

SBMA reported a 126 percent year-on-year surge in port leases and rentals in September, while it posted a 53 percent growth in its number of ship calls.

As an alternative port to Manila, SBMA said the Subic Port’s number of domestic and foreign vessels grew by 56 percent and 47 percent, respectively, during the month.

SBMA chairman and administrator Roberto Garcia said the Subic Port also showed improvements in cargo volume in September as containerized cargo shipments swelled by 50 percent in terms of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

“As of last month, we have already broken our 2014 yearend record of 77,000 TEUs,” Garcia said, adding the volume handled has already reached 93,757 TEUs from January to September this year.

Non-containerized cargo volume also rose by 48 percent in terms of metric tons in September, as compared to the same month last year.

SBMA said these cargoes largely consisted of liquid bulk and petroleum shipments,  bulk and break bulk, and heavy equipment and ro-ro shipments.

Garcia attributed the port’s positive performance to several factors such as Subic’s one-stop shop, which is the only one of its kind in Luzon, SBMA’s port marketing programs and the formation of a maritime technical group.

“All these initiatives plus the fact that Subic Bay is the only port in the Philippines western seaboard that still has enough capacity to handle additional container volume have further sharpened our port’s competitive edge,” the SBMA chief said.
Lower exports seen this year

By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 31, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The country’s merchandise exports will not only be missing growth targets this year but will also likely end in the red, an industry official said.

Philippine Exports Confederation (PhilExport) president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said the country would be fortunate to see exports finish on the same level as the previous year.

“Right now, I think we can hope for a little positive or flat but it’s very possible that it can be negative,” Ortiz-Luis said.

“We’re already in the nine months of the data and we are still negative,” he added.

Latest data from the government showed merchandise exports for the first eight months of the year contracted 4.4 percent to $39.34 billion from $41.13 billion in the same period in 2014.

Electronic products remained to the country’s top export with total receipts of $2.353 billion, accounting for 45.9 percent of total exports revenue in August.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan earlier gave up on the seven-percent exports growth target of the government this year, saying growth may be flat this year compared to the 2014 levels.

Merchandise exports last year stood at $61.8 billion, nine percent higher from that recorded in 2013.

In an interview last month, Ortiz-Luis was still optimistic the country’s exports will manage to grow three to four percent this year despite a few setbacks experienced early on.

Exporters are still awaiting for a proposed support fund worth P1.7 billion from the government to boost the country’s export growth.

Once issued, the budget which will be used to help finance exporters promotional activities which will be handled by the Department of Trade and Industry.
World Bank urges Philippines to simplify business regulations

By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star)
Updated November 2, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines could rake in additional investments of at least P5 billion to P10 billion from the private sector annually should it simplify business regulations, according to the World Bank.

In a briefing last week, World Bank Philippine office senior country economist Karl Kendrick Chua said business regulations in the Philippines tend to be cumbersome and limit the growth of innovative entrepreneurship and investments.

“Indicative estimates suggest the high cost of doing business is clearly a toll on the country’s inclusive growth agenda. We don’t have exact numbers, but if we have simpler regulations, we are seeing anywhere from at least P5 billion to P10 billion in new investments that can come in,” Chua said.

Chua said current Philippine business regulations also contribute to large scale informality which prevents the country from creating more and better jobs that could reduce poverty at a faster rate.

He said simplifying business regulations could unleash the potential of the private sector, particularly the small and micro businesses which are important contributors and beneficiaries of inclusive growth.

“They not only have to pay legitimate fees between P21,000 to P45,000 a year when they open a business, they also spend a considerable amount of time moving from one agency to another, and waiting in line to process their documents, often resulting in significant loss of productive time and income. In some instances, businesses report they need to pay bribes to obtain various permits and licenses,” Chua said.

“After a business commences, numerous annual regulatory and tax requirements are needed, which can take many days in a year. Moreover, there are tax and contribution payments that have to be paid frequently every year,” he added.
President Aquino rebrands PHL as “Asia’s New Darling”

by Philippines News Agency
October 30, 2015
Upon being elected as the “Salesman-in-Chief” of the Philippines in 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III has conducted an aggressive marketing campaign to revamp the old brand of the Philippines, from being known as “the Sick Man of Asia” into “Asia’s New Darling.”

In his remarks during the 17th Asia Pacific Retail Convention and Exhibition (APRCE) on Thursday at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, the President shared that the Philippines had once been among the least performing countries in many aspects as the country was “plagued” by “rampant corruption and impunity” in the past.

“Establishing a new brand is already a challenge. A different one altogether is reworking an “old brand”—rejuvenating and reviving the image of something that may already have negative associations with its name,” said Aquino.

The Aquino administration had to revamp the system, undertake radical reform, and effect transformation so that “the Philippines was once again open for business under new management.”

Some major overhauls done by the current administration include instituting transparency and accountability, pursuing after the corrupt, leveling the playing field, and investing massive resources into the Filipino people, among others.

“Our campaign has been extremely successful. We did not only revamp our image, we also effected true change,” Aquino said.

“Since 2010, we have climbed the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Rankings: When we started, we were at 85th; now, we are at 47th and we have every intention of being ranked even higher in the near future,” he added.

Aside from the leap in rankings, the country’s GDP growth has been one of the region’s fastest with a 6.2 percent average over the last five years.

Furthermore, the country also broke its record for the largest ever net foreign direct investments in 2014.

“Now that we have so many successes under our belt, now that we are realizing our aspirations, we cannot allow ourselves to backslide. This is the time to work even harder, and even more closely with one another, to build on what we have achieved,” Aquino noted.

The APRCE is a major activity of the Federation of Asia Pacific Retailers Association (FAPRA), which is composed of 18 member economies including China, Japan, Korea, Turkey, New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, India, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mongolia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar, and the Philippines.

This biennial event, slated Oct. 28 to 30, is considered the largest and longest running retail industry event in the Asia Pacific and has attracted over 3,000 foreign and local retailers and executives throughout the region.

Also present during the occasion were Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) President and Chief Operating Officer of Duty Free Philippines Lorenzo Formoso, PRA Overall Chairman Frederick Go, FAPRA Chairman Melmet Nane.
Abu Dhabi investors keen on doing business in Philippines

(The Philippine Star)
Updated November 2, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Abu Dhabi businessmen have expressed strong interest to invest in the Philippines, according to the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (Citem), the export promotions arm of the Department of Trade and Industry.

Citem executive director Rosvi C. Gaetos said the board members of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI) indicated clear intent to do business  in the Philippines during a recent meeting with the Philippine Business Council and the representatives of interior design and furniture export firms, hotels and real estate developers.

“The report on the OBMM (outbound business matching meeting) from our embassy in Abu Dhabi underscored the sincere intent of the ADCCI to expand the scope of joint industry cooperation, increase the trade figures and find ways to help the UAE (United Arab Emirates) investors benefit from the investment incentives in the Philippines,” Gaetos pointed out.

“Organized by the DTI and its Export Marketing Bureau, the OBMM had 10 of the Philippines’ furniture exporting firms represented at the meeting – six from Luzon and two each from the Visayas and Mindanao – all witnessing how officials from concerned government agencies were working together for their welfare,” Gaetos said.

“A major player in the regional economy of the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates is not only an oil-rich member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, but is also the region’s premier upscale tourism destination, generating huge demand for high-end furniture products that the Philippines can supply,” Gaetos stressed.

Moreover, Abu Dhabi reportedly has the bulk of UAE’s oil reserves, whose income has long been flowing into tourism, construction, technologies and other non-oil ventures.

UAE’s attribute as a strategic export marketing venue and investment source is highlighted by Citem’s forthcoming participation in the Dubai International Brand Licensing Fair on Nov. 3 and 4.

Commercial News » Hong Kong Edition
By Michael Gerrity
October 30, 2015 11:20 AM ET 

Rise of Asian Institutional Investors, Fund Managers Drives Market
According to CBRE, cross-border property investment in Asia accounted for 36% of total turnover year-to-date - rising 36% quarter-on-quarter to $10.6 billion - marking this the highest total recorded since 2008.

Based on CBRE's preliminary Q3 2015 figures, investment turnover grew 20% quarter-on-quarter in Q3 2015 to $25.6 billion, despite the year-to-date investment volume being down 24% compared to the same period in 2014. Sustained investor interest remained upbeat in Australia and Japan, with these two markets accounting for 56% of total regional turnover in the quarter. Asian capital was particularly active in the Pacific, lured by high yields. Australia--especially in Sydney and Melbourne--attracted strong investor demand from Asian investors due to stable fundamentals being relatively affordable in these markets, compared to assets in their own domestic markets.

Ada Choi, Senior Director, Research, CBRE Asia Pacific, commented, "the region's investment environment saw solid activity this quarter driven by renewed interest from western investors and the rise of Asian institutional investors and fund managers. International institutional investors continued to expand their real estate portfolios in the region as they're seeking long-term investments to generate profit above inflation."

"With cross-border investment gathering pace, Asian investors still continue to be drawn to offshore opportunities, looking abroad to diversify a growing pool of domestic wealth globally."

"Investment volume in Q3 was mainly boosted by big-ticket transactions across a variety of asset classes, which included the sale of the InterContinental Hong Kong hotel to GAW Capital for $940 million and CIC's acquisition of a $1.7 billion office portfolio from Investa in Australia. This reflects the strong investment appetite among large-scale institutional investors for big-ticket deals," added Ms. Choi.

Furthermore, findings also revealed that India saw an increase in capital inflows from major international investors, underpinned by a faster GDP growth than China and having one of the strongest business sentiments in the region. Markets in India show healthy activity in the occupier markets, particularly supported by a solid office demand from the e-commerce and BPO sector.

However, despite strong investment activity in the quarter, the region generally saw weaker rental growth in the occupier markets.

Dr. Henry Chin, Head of Research, CBRE Asia Pacific, commented, "in Q3 2015, occupier markets saw slower rental growth on the back of weaker fundamentals such as weaker business and consumer sentiment. In the office sector, new office supply of 20 million sq. ft. NFA is expected to complete in Q4 2015, and this will make it more challenging for landlords to retain tenants. The bulk of leasing activity is taking place in decentralized areas in key markets and major business process outsourcing destinations such as India. Cost saving relocation has surpassed flight-to-quality as the primary driver of decentralization."

In the retail sector, overall rents fell 0.3% quarter-on-quarter as Hong Kong suffered its sharpest decline since 1998 (-9.1% quarter-on-quarter) due to the shift in mainland Chinese tourist spending patterns coupled with slower tourist arrivals. In contrast, Hong Kong's office market sentiment remained positive with vacancy in Central CBD staying at less than 1%.

"Tourism still remains an ongoing factor, impacting the retail sector in several markets with a change in tourist consumption and traveling patterns, especially by mainland Chinese tourists. Hong Kong and Singapore's retail markets were mostly affected by the weaker tourism industry, and retailers are slowing down expansion plans in China due to concerns on China's economic growth. Most Chinese cities recorded very little rental growth in Q3. In contrast, visitor numbers continued to increase in Japan on the back of the cheap Japanese yen, resulting to more leasing demand in Tokyo--mainly driven by upmarket retailers. Demand for prime space from international retailers also remained strong in Australia, particularly from premium brands and F&B retailers," says Dr. Chin.

Elsewhere, the recently negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is expected to increase trade flows, lower the cost of goods, and improve employment prospects for participating Asia Pacific countries. The major beneficiary will be the industrial sector, with favourable support for Vietnam, Australia, and New Zealand. There is still some way to go for implementation of the TPP, therefore, these benefits will emerge in the longer-term.
Other key Asia market highlights:
In the office sector, overall corporate sentiment deteriorated in the quarter due to stock market volatility and renewed fears over a China slowdown. Net absorption contracted by nearly 30% quarter-on-quarter to 11.2 million sq. ft. NFA as demand weakened in most markets, with the exception of Bangalore, New Delhi, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Seoul. CBRE continues to expect 10% year-on-year increase in net absorption in 2015.
Office rents edged up by just 0.3% quarter-on-quarter. A rental correction in Singapore (-3.5% quarter-on-quarter) offset solid growth recorded in Hong Kong (+3.0% quarter-on-quarter) and Auckland (+2.2% quarter-on-quarter).
F&B remained the most active sector in retail but previous upbeat markets such as Shenzhen and Singapore are now approaching saturation.
Retail rents in the Pacific continued to rise--2.3% quarter-on-quarter--amid solid demand from overseas retailers.
In Q3, leasing demand for logistics warehousing space was stable and continued to be driven by third-party logistics, e-commerce and retailers; however, the supply side dictated rental movement in many markets.
Overall logistics rents decreased by 0.6% quarter-on-quarter, weighted down by oversupply issues in Melbourne (-2.4% quarter-on-quarter), Tokyo (-2.2% quarter-on-quarter) and Singapore (-1.6% quarter-on-quarter), leading to a 0.7% quarter-on-quarter decline in capital values, the first drop since Q3 2009.
The strong supply pipeline and rising operation costs will continue to pull down regional logistics rental growth in the short-term, however, markets with tight supply, such as Hong Kong and South China, will have a base for stable rental growth, in spite of the subdued retail environment.

Vista launches P3.5-B condotel in Cebu, its biggest Visayas project

by James Loyola
November 1, 2015 (updated)

Vista Residences, Inc. (VRI), the condominium subsidiary of top homebuilder Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc., has launched its biggest project in the Visayas called Vista Suarez Cebu, a condotel project estimated to cost P3.5 billion.

The mixed-use project will have retails spaces, offices, residential units and a hotel – a first for a Vista Residences development. Located right in the heart of Metro Cebu, it is the most ambitious vertical project yet of VRI in the Visayas.

The 32-story, twin-tower development will rise on Gorordo Avenue, right in the middle of the metro’s key hubs:  Fuente Osmeña Circle, the Cebu Provincial Capitol, and the Cebu Business Park.

Designed for both work and sanctuary, Vista Suarez Cebu stresses space: It offers a minimal 27 units per floor in Tower 1, and only 14 units per floor in Tower 2.

This will allow more privacy, much less crowding in the public areas, and more breathing space – a huge premium in condominium living.

At the street level, the building will house retail and commercial shops and restaurants for the residents’ and guests’ convenience and enjoyment. The next two levels will be allotted for offices and business centers.

Vista Suarez will both be a hotel and a residential development. The sixth to the 14th floor will be run as a hotel.  The rooms – offering both studio and one-bedroom selections – will be outfitted and run with the same professionalism, expertise, and customer care as are the world’s top hotels.

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Daily News
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Monday, January 4, 2016
Elections to affect real estate activity; oversupply in vertical residential segment

By: Tessa R. Salazar
Philippine Daily Inquirer
12:25 AM January 2nd, 2016
(First of a series)

AS THE PHILIPPINES “goes bananas” in an election year—in the year of the monkey at that—property experts see a number of challenges, and likely trends, flavoring and coloring the real estate industry in 2016. Here’s their fearless forecast:

    There will be an oversupply in the mid-market vertical residential segment.

“I expect 2016 to be the most challenging year for the residential property sector. A looming oversupply in the mid-market vertical residential segment in Metro Manila is developing, and developers should expect a slowdown by as much as 10 percent in the average annual take-up rate of 50,000 units. Several developers are already holding back sales of new projects until supply balances out in 2018,” said Enrique M. Soriano III, Ateneo program director for real estate and senior adviser for Wong+Bernstein Business, in an Inquirer Property interview.

Soriano said that with this oversupply scenario, “we will naturally anticipate vacancy rates to go up in 2016 to double digits in the Makati and Ortigas CBD (central business district) area.”

    The 2016 presidential elections will affect the market. Soriano said the presidential and national elections “is likewise expected to freeze any major real estate activity in the first two quarters of 2016. Naturally, investor sentiment will be on a wait-and-see attitude. This will not bode well for the property sector and the economy as a whole. Hopefully, after the elections, it will be followed by a possible uptick in transaction levels in the last two quarters of 2016,” said Soriano.

    Business process outsourcing (BPO) growth continues. BPO companies, according to property portal Lamudi Philippines, will continue to buoy Metro Manila’s commercial real estate.

“Experts do not foresee the supply of office space surpassing demand soon, meaning commercial properties (and offices in particular) remain a beneficial investment for 2016,” said Lamudi

Philippines in a statement.

Soriano said that in 2016, Grade-A office rents in prime areas is expected to increase 5 percent, given strong demand for office space and low vacancy rates. Meanwhile, rents in non-CBD areas may slightly drop by 5 percent due to available supply in Makati and Bonifacio Global City.

    Metro Manila land values will go up. Lamudi Philippines said that despite slower gross domestic product growth in 2015, land values still continue to appreciate, albeit at a slower pace.

Colliers International said that growth rates of land values in Metro Manila accelerated in the second quarter of 2015. In addition, land values in the Makati CBD, growing at only 0.85 percent during the first three months of the year, rebounded in the next three by growing at a rate of 2 percent. This raised the area’s average price to P452,704 per square meter. Values similarly rose in the business districts of Fort Bonifacio and Ortigas Center, increasing at 1.97 and 2.1 percent, respectively.

    Retail property market will face a slowdown. Soriano said “the challenging retail environment is likely to persist next year due to diminishing inbound tourist arrivals. We expect prime rents outside of the shopping centers to slide by 10 percent in 2016, while shopping mall spaces are expected to escalate.”

“We can also expect a decline in premium retail market rents due to the expected drop in tourist arrivals as a result of the national elections happening in the first half of 2016. The mass retail market is expected to remain resilient as domestic consumption continue to grow, fueled partly by election spending nationwide,” said Soriano.
Office rents seen easing

By: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
01:53 AM January 1st, 2016

Office rental rates are seen to soften this 2016 as new office buildings come into play and start to overshadow demand, property consulting firm Colliers said.

As new supply has started to outpace demand, office property vacancy rates are seen to rise until 2017 but remain within manageable levels. Capital values are also projected to grow in some categories and areas, albeit at a slower pace.

By the third quarter of this year, average rental rate on premium buildings in the Makati central business district is seen to slip by 2.96 percent year-on-year to P1,076-P1,350 per square meter per month.

Monthly grade A and B rents in Makati are likewise seen to decline year-on-year by 2.48 percent and 0.56 percent, respectively, to P698-P1,067 and P569-P807 per square meter.

“The demand has been constant so far but supply is overcoming the demand already,” Colliers Philippines associate director Brian David, Colliers associate director for office services, said in an interview.

But citing feedback from the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry—a key driver of the local property market over the years—David said this industry was not expecting any slowdown.  In fact, he said big new BPO entrants were still coming to the Philippine market, banking on economic stability and the country’s educated and English-speaking workforce.

“The only difference is that developers are building more compared to 2014 and 2015. That’s why we’re expecting a slowdown at some point,” David said.

Colliers’ latest research suggested that the strong leasing activity experienced throughout most of 2015 would taper as the huge influx of new supply could increase vacancies.

The Makati vacancy rate is expected to rise to 4.4 percent by end-2016 from an average of 4.06 percent at end-2015. Vacancies in Fort Bonifacio—where 43 percent of the new stock for the year will be located—are seen to rise to 10.8 percent.

“We’re still at a good stage from 2012 till now. The vacancy rate is below 5 percent for the whole property market.  It will increase because of new supply to 6-7 percent but this is still a manageable range,” David said.

Some developers had been closing leasing deals for new buildings in the fringe areas with net effective rents that were significantly lower than their headline rates and likewise cutting on common area chargers, based on Colliers data.

“This is likely due to the developers’ recognition of the high levels of upcoming supply in the next couple of years, and they would rather put contracts in place at lower rates today than risk having their spaces vacant for an extended period of time,” the latest Colliers research said.
SM takes malling to higher level

By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star)
Updated January 3, 2016 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines – The SM Group will implement changes in its malls to bring “malling experience to a whole new level” for its customers.

SM Prime Holdings president Hans Sy said for instance, SM’s Mall of Asia will break boundaries with an expansion plan that includes a rooftop botanical garden, a football field, a Galleon Museum and a theater for the performing arts.

Similarly, The Podium in Ortigas, which is a venture with SM Keppel Land Inc., will provide customers more premium retailing and dining options.

“All in all, we plan to develop four to five new malls in the Philippines each year, with our long- term goal of having 100 malls around the country.  That sounds like an impossible dream, but with your support we know we will be able to achieve this,” Sy said.

The SM Group would also be exploring e-commerce to provide its shoppers with more choices and convenience.

Even with the onslaught of online formats, SM continues to enhance its lifestyle malls to provide shoppers a more exciting and educational experience, Sy said.

He is optimistic that malls, which belong to the so-called “brick-and-mortar” businesses, will continue to “click” despite the evolving retail landscape characterized by the explosion of digital formats.

“As you all know, much has happened since we opened our first mall 30 years ago – the retail landscape has become more global and competitive, technology has forever changed the way we live and do things, and customer tastes have changed along with the times,” Sy said.

According to Sy, brick-and-mortar businesses like shopping malls have evolved with the times, surviving major and economic political shifts and changing the Filipino lifestyle.

“When we started building SM City North EDSA in 1983, people thought my father was crazy.  There was a political crisis, interest rates were as high as 45 percent, and the location of the mall was in the middle of nowhere.  They said SM City would not succeed, but the mall was an instant success.  And the rest, as they say is history.  And that is why we are all here today after 30 years,” Sy said.

SM soon opened SM City Cebu in November 1993, its first provincial mall, which was followed by an aggressive expansion program in key cities around the country.

In 2006, SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City was opened, SM’s premiere mall destination in the region. It soon introduced more upscale projects like SM Aura Premier in Taguig and expanded Megamall in 2014 with the Mega Fashion Hall.

“We have seen changing lifestyles in a world that is more global in perspective, and more technologically advanced and environmentally concerned. But together, we have changed the Filipino lifestyle forever,” Sy said.

The SM Group has also noticed a new breed of shoppers who want a total experience in malls.

In order to cater to this new breed and to enhance the shopping experience, SM has introduced more international retail brands, more interesting food concepts as well as services geared towards enhancing wellness and providing greater convenience. These include spas, dental clinics, and waxing salons, to name a few.

“You have to make sure that your brands are competitive. There are still people who want to see and feel what they’re buying. You have to make sure that your malls are lifestyle centers. You have to be ready. Change is going to come. You just have to be fast and quick in evolving,” Tan said.
Procurements, permits process slow Yolanda housing developments

By Ted P. Torres (The Philippine Star)
Updated January 2, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – More than two years after the massive destruction brought by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), only 13,335 housing units have been completed, with construction of 79,219 houses ongoing and scheduled for completion by December 2016.

In a report released by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), it attributed the slow pace of building resettlement sites to policies on procurement and land acquisition and the many required permits and clearances needed to start certain projects.

“NEDA is intensively coordinating efforts to address these policy and implementation issues with the concerned agencies,” Arsenio M. Balisacan, Economic Planning Secretary and NEDA director general, said.

Last April, President Aquino transferred the coordination, monitoring, and evaluation of all disaster-related programs projects and activities (PPAs) from the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery to NEDA.

Balisacan noted that resettlement of the survivors from the danger zones remains the most challenging among the recovery efforts.

“Nevertheless, the Philippine government – working closely with its development partners, the private sector and non-governmental organizations – continues to see steady progress in the Yolanda recovery and rehabilitation efforts,” he said.

The overall weighted physical accomplishment (OWPA) of completed and ongoing Yolanda PPAs now stands at 63.2 percent – or 30.3 percent completed and 33.1 percent ongoing. Most of the ongoing projects are scheduled for completion by 2016.

“The government is making strides in rebuilding resilient communities in the Yolanda corridors in the Visayas regions, as well as in Mimaropa region, particularly through sustainable infrastructure development and responsive social services,” the report noted.

The reconstructed roads, bridges, ports, telecommunications facilities, as well as health and education facilities, are now subscribing to more stringent structural standards, NEDA said.

Many Yolanda survivors now have better prospects with the help of government’s various livelihood assistance programs, it added.

The Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) benefited 788,747 households or 76.3 percent of the targeted 1,033,827 families whose houses were damaged by the typhoon.

The families with partially damaged houses received P10,000 worth of cash or materials; while families with totally damaged houses received P30,000 worth of cash or materials. The ESA was intended to help affected families build sturdier houses provided they are away from the danger zones. Distribution of ESA is still ongoing.

A total 48,995 Yolanda survivors, or 89.4 percent of the targeted 54,825 beneficiaries, have had their fishing boats repaired or replaced.

Meanwhile, thousands more received fishing gears and paraphernalia than originally targeted: 76,598 sets were distributed while the original target was 68,636; distribution of an additional 4,779 sets is ongoing.

The distribution of rice and corn seeds is also nearing completion, with 94,020 or 85.7 percent of 101,708 targeted bags distributed to beneficiaries.

In addition to restoring the livelihoods of farmers and fishers, the government has also undertaken to provide new livelihood opportunities to survivors; an example of this is the entrepreneurship training – majority (80.22 percent) of the targeted 364 trainings have already been completed.

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7 Metro Manila areas offer next wave of property development

By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star)
Updated January 1, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Aside from the Makati business district and Bonifacio Global City, Metro Manila will be heading into 2016 with seven more investment-worthy areas to further beef up the country’s real estate sector, local portal said.

In its latest report, MyProperty identified seven neighborhoods in Metro Manila which are just as promising in terms of offering real estate opportunities as the Makati business district and BGC.

These are Alabang in Muntinlupa, Bay City in Pasay, BF Homes in Parañaque, Kapitolyo in Pasig, New Manila in Quezon City, Poblacion in Makati and Sikatuna Village in Quezon City.

The property portal said Alabang is an ideal place for young professionals being close to offices located at Madrigal Business Park and Filinvest City, while up-and-coming townships such as Alabang West and South Park District would establish the area as a legitimate real estate hotspot.

Bay City is also expected to remain busy next year with SM Mall of Asia and continuous development of the Entertainment City which houses the City of Dreams Manila, Solaire Resort and Casino, and two more integrated resorts to open until 2018.

BF Homes and Sikatuna Village, meanwhile, had grown from being a largely residential area to thriving gastronomic hubs with different restaurants lined up along Aguirre Ave. and Maginhawa St., respectively.

Another investment-worthy area in Quezon City is New Manila which is perfect for families for its proximity to schools such as St. Joseph’s College, St. Paul University, and Xavier School, and shopping centers like Robinsons Magnolia and Greenhills Shopping Center.

The proximity of Kapitolyo to Ortigas Center, meanwhile, makes the area a magnet for both young professionals and starter families, MyProperty said.

After the Makati Business District, the property portal said Poblacion is the city’s most significant neighborhood, housing several commercial centers, various businesses, and government offices.

“The Philippine economy’s continued rise is apparent in the real estate front, notably as evidenced by the condo projects, commercial centers, and office buildings that are being built one after the other in the Metro Manila area,” MyProperty said.

“While the business center of Makati and the Bonifacio Global City will constantly remain hot commodities for both investors and end-users, there are a few areas within the metro that are looking just as promising,” it added.

MyProperty early last year was acquired by global property portal Lamudi, making the latter the biggest online property portal in the Philippines to date.
Zamboecozone OKs projects worth P9.7B

Philippine Daily Inquirer
02:14 AM January 4th, 2016

THE VALUE of the investment commitments approved by the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority in 2015 surged to P9.7 billion from only P9.8 million a year ago due largely to a proposed 300-megawatt solar farm.

In an interview, Alfonso Basilio A. Marquez, head of corporate relations at the Zamboecozone, said the biggest investment pledge for 2015 was that of Ecoglobal Inc., a monocystalline solar power firm that had committed to invest P9.2 billion in the planned solar facility.

Zamboanga Coffee Co. is meanwhile pouring out some P420 million for a seed production center, nurseries, coffee mills, and plantations, while Phil Union Canning Co. (PUCCI), which is engaged in the manufacturing, processing, buying, selling and dealing in pasteurized crab meat, frozen crab meat and canned seafood products, is expected to invest P35.9 million.

Other approved investments were those of Seaoil Philippines; Development Bank of the Philippines; AHS Agri Aqua Ventures; Aces Technical Services Group; RPH Enterprises; Zamboanga Hemp Agro-Resources; and Ecosystem Technologies Inc.

“We are targeting 20 additional locators (at the Zamboecozone) for 2016. The agriculture sector will still be the (main) driver of growth for Zamboeocozone for the next few years,” Marquez said.

According to Marquez, the Zamboecozone offers opportunities for investors to set up their respective processing plants for Halal chicken, tea, fish, coffee, cassava, mango, and coconut water; plantations for coffee, cacao, rubber, abaca, and tomato; and production facilities for tomato paste and abaca.

Other locators that are being eyed were operators of fishponds, poultry and livestock, and piggery; companies wanting to set up warehousing and cold storage facilities; fish quality control laboratory; and business process and outsourcing (BPO), among others.

The Zamboecozone is also being eyed as a Halal hub, with the government already allocating some 100 hectares for the establishment of the halal processing zone.

“One of our missions is to bring the Halal Certifiers and establish a one-stop office inside the zone. We are also in close coordination with the Department of Science and Technology for the establishment of Halal Laboratory inside the zone. We also conducted a study visit to various Halal Parks in Malaysia,” Marquez added. Amy R. Remo
Gaisano property unit invests in Cebu waterfront project

By: Irene R. Sino Cruz
Inquirer Visayas
12:07 AM January 3rd, 2016

CEBU CITY—An idle 20-hectare waterfront property at the reclamation area in Mandaue City will soon be transformed into a mixed use community aimed at becoming a lifestyle destination.

Mandani Bay will be a mostly residential project but with commercial and office components.

Project director Theodore Gilbert Ang said that on the property will rise 25 towers with podiums, a marina and a 450-meter long by 50-meter wide Green Strip, a park and playground area what will also serve as an activity area for special events like sports and concerts.

The towers will be built on top of the podiums but these will be set back so as to have a clear view of the skyline.

The presence of offices, around 10 percent of total buildings space, will support the commercial locators and make their businesses viable, Ang said.

Robert Wong, executive director of Hongkong Land, explained that the project was named Mandani Bay after Mandaue’s former name.

“[The name] is fitting for our project because it links Mandaue’s heritage with its bright future,” he said.

The Mandani Bay project will be implemented by HT Land, a joint venture between Hong Kong Land and Taft Properties.

“Hongkong Land and Taft Properties intend to transform this part of Mandaue into a modern, yet culturally sensitive lifestyle destination,” Wong said.

The Mandani Bay is the first real estate development in Cebu of Hongkong Land, a $30-billion business that was established in 1889.

“Hongkong Land has strong confidence in the future of Cebu and the Philippines and we believe this project will contribute positively to the city,” Wong said.

The company, a member of the Jardine Matheson Group, holds 40 percent of Northpine Land Inc., which has ongoing horizontal developments.

These include Greenwoods Village and Kohana Grove in Cavite, Forest Ridge in Antipolo City and Southampton in Laguna. Its partners include Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. and San Miguel Properties.

It also owns 40 percent of the Roxas Triangle Towers in Makati, in partnership with Ayala Land and the Bank of the Philippine Islands.

Jack Gaisano, chairman of Taft Properties, pointed at the unique design features, its strategic location and extensive water frontage as the key attractions of the project.

“The project will also be built around several distinctive characteristics aimed at creating an attractive community in line with international standards,” Gaisano said in a statement.

Taft Properties forms part of the Vicsal Development Corp., along with the Metro Gaisano group, Wealth Bank, Vicsal Investments and AB Capital.

The project, which will be implemented in eight phases, will have a total of 25 towers.

The first phase will include the construction of two tower buildings, a show gallery, a commercial strip, some office spaces and a park and playground, he said.

The two towers would cost around P4.5-billion and would have 27 and 25 floors, with a total of 1,200 residential condominium units. The construction of the show gallery, located at the property, is ongoing and will be completed by January 2016.

The commercial strip will be composed of 15-20 stand-alone structures of one or two stories. However, Ang said they could not give any budget for the commercial strip, which was still on the planning stage. After eight years, the company will tear down the commercial strip structures as soon as the podium would have enough retail locators to sustain the community, he said.

The first phase is expected to be completed in three and a half years while the target date of completion for the entire project is between 10 to 15 years, Ang said. The 450-meter-long Green Strip will be implemented per phase.

The commercial strip will be completed towards the end of the third quarter or early fourth quarter.

Ang said the plan was to begin the second phase of development after two years.
Xurpas eyes more acquisitions, regional expansion

By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star)
Updated January 4, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Xurpas Inc. is targeting to conquer Southeast Asia through more acquisitions possibly this year as it seeks to expand in the region, its top official said.

“Our goal really is to create, at minimum, a regional footprint,” said Xurpas chairman and CEO Nico Nolledo.

Nolledo said the company is eyeing to expand in Malaysia, Bangladesh and Indonesia and eventually to the rest of the region. “The objective is to be in as many markets in Southeast Asia as we can,” he said.

The Philippines, he added, is just one of the countries that Xurpas wants to operate in.

Nolledo said there are more than 600 telcos in the world. A big part of them are operating in emerging markets and some of them are in Southeast Asia.

“There aren’t too many players, it’s easier for us to build our presence that’s why we are in a rush. We don’t want to be a laggard where the competition will be very stiff already by the time we expand,” Nolledo said. “For you to become global, you need to fly,” he added.

Less than six months after its successful initial public offering in December 2014, Xurpas has acquired a number of companies.

These include a $500,000 convertible note investment in Einsights Pte, which comes with an option to receive interest income or convert the note into equity at a discount; a $76,136 investment in Xeleb Inc. which expands Xurpas’ product portfolio through celebrity branded games, content and services and a $1.4 million investment in Matchme Pte. Ltd, which enhances the company’s mobile game development capacities with MatchMe’s real-time, multiplayer online games tournament platform.

With its aggressive expansion mode, Xurpas is looking to tap the market again to raise funds, possibly through a follow-on offering.

“There’s nothing that we’re really planning for. If ever we raise capital, it will be because there is a very promising investment or acquisition,” Nolledo said.
Metro Retail starts expansion

By: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
02:00 AM January 2nd, 2016
Newly listed Visayan retailing giant Metro Retail Stores Group Inc. (MRSGI) is riding on the buoyant consumer spending in the country by expanding its delivery fleet and distribution infrastructure.

“We aim to be a leader in retail supply chain management and meet our customers’ demand for world-class services,” MRSGI chair and chief executive officer Frank Gaisano said in a recent statement.

Gaisano recently led the turnover of 37 new delivery trucks from Isuzu Philippines Corp. and 30 new delivery trucks from Hino Philippines to MRSGI’s logistics facility in Silangan, Laguna.

In line with MRSGI’s objective to improve logistic capabilities, the company teamed up with Isuzu Philippines for the acquisition of 13 units of Isuzu FVM 10-wheeler trucks with aluminum wing van, 12 units of NKR71 with refrigerated van body and 12 units of NKR71 with aluminum body.

The company also teamed up with Hino Philippines for the acquisition of 16 units of SH1E tractor head and 14 units of WU342L 6-wheeler truck with aluminum van body.

The new fleet will be deployed to MRSGI’s 46-store network that serves over 250,000 customers daily, the company said.

To ensure timely delivery of goods and improve overall cost efficiency, MRSGI plans to equip all its in-house delivery trucks with tracking devices that will enable real-time monitoring from the company’s control center. “Employing the latest technology is a key innovation that will drive our business forward,” said Gaisano, highlighting the company’s commitment to continuously upgrade its infrastructure.

Alongside its investments in technology and equipment, MRSGI also plans to hire 130 personnel to join its team of engineers, mechanics, customer service representatives, traffic controllers, and cost and transport specialists who support the company’s growing logistics and supply chain network.

MRSGI has also committed to train its drivers on safety, driving efficiency, and customer service delivery in line with its thrust to provide friendly and responsive service to its customers. “We have a comprehensive approach to improving service delivery,” said Gaisano, who explained that “good customer service does not stop with store associates, but is reflected in every aspect of the company’s operations, including supply chain management and back-end services.”

Armed with fresh capital for expansion, MRSGI—which listed back in November—planned to open 50 to 70 new stores to double its nationwide retailing footprint in the next five years.  The group currently has around 400,000 square meters of gross floor area across its 46 stores, making it the largest retailer in Visayas and the fourth largest nationwide.
Metro Pacific adds Manila Doctors to its growing hospital network

Philippine Daily Inquirer
01:46 AM December 30th, 2015

The Metro Pacific group has sealed a deal to buy into the 300-bed Manila Doctors Hospital in Ermita, Manila, the 10th hospital in its growing healthcare portfolio.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Tuesday, infrastructure holding firm Metro Pacific Investments Corp.  (MPIC) said its hospital unit had completed the acquisition of a 20-percent stake in Manila Medical Services Inc. (MMSI), owner of Manila Doctors Hospital, for P368 million.

Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings Inc. bought a total 388,932 common shares of stock, the disclosure read. The stake was purchased from Metrobank Foundation Inc., the controlling shareholder of MMSI.

Manila Doctors Hospital is currently a 300-bed tertiary hospital located in the city of Manila with annual revenues of about P2 billion. The hospital is constructing a new 18-story building that will house new doctors’ clinics, patient rooms, outpatient diagnostic services and additional parking facilities. The new tower is targeted for completion at end-2016, expanding the hospital’s capacity to around 500 beds.

“While we will try our best to contribute whatever we can to MMSI and Manila Doctors, we also look forward to learning from this esteemed medical institution,” Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings president and chief executive officer Augusto Palisoc Jr. said.

Palisoc is one of two directors from Metro Pacific who will be appointed to the MMSI board. The other representative is Jose Ma. Lim, president and chief executive officer of MPIC.

Metro Pacific also recently signed an investment agreement to acquire a 51-percent stake in Sacred Heart Hospital of Malolos (SHHM) in Bulacan. Including SHHM, all 11 hospitals under its network have a capacity of 2,700 beds.

Other hospitals under the Metro Pacific group include five in Metro Manila: Makati Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Asian Hospital and De Los Santos Medical Center. Four others are in the provinces: Davao Doctors Hospital, Riverside Medical Center in Bacolod, Central Luzon Doctors Hospital in Tarlac and West Metro Medical Center in Zamboanga. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
PTT expansion shifts to rollout of small stations

By Danessa O. Rivera (The Philippine Star)
Updated January 1, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - PTT Philippines Corp., the local unit of Thailand’s largest petroleum company, will push through with the rollout of smaller stations as part of its aggressive expansion in the country.

Announced in May, the original plan was to introduce a couple of compact stations in Luzon to penetrate smaller communities.

However, plans for the compact stations were revised and were green-lit for rollout this year, PTT marketing director Thitiroj Rergsumran said.

The revision mainly involved the costing of the stations.

“When we tested the market, we found something to correct. We sent back the comments back to PTT Bangkok and made the correction. We just got approval earlier this month so we can kick off next year,” Rergsumran said.

The mini stations will range between 800 to 1,000 square meters to meet the head office’s standards for fire safety and fuel tanks, PTT Philippines president and CEO Sukanya Seriyothin noted.

This compares with the 1,200 to 1,800 sqm. land area of a regular station. The company also has a 2,000 sqm. property in Pampanga, its biggest station.

Seriyothin noted a regular station will take three months to build while a compact station can be constructed in only 15 to 20 days.

Putting up compact stations will depend on the location, like cities with small roads and communities.

“Later on, we will have in some areas compact stations. But we will still go with the big station (for our expansion),” Seriyothin said.

For 2016, PTT Philippines will open 15 new stations across the country, which does not include the compact stations.

Rergsumran noted investment for the compact stations will be through dealership.

“We will go to dealer-owned stations to help the dealer save on costs, and then operate the station eventually,” he said.