Andrew Tan boosts gaming resort capital spending to P121B

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018Good Morning!

Andrew Tan boosts gaming resort capital spending to P121B

By: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
12:01 PM February 27, 2018

The group of property tycoon Andrew Tan has committed a higher capital spending budget of P121 billion for 31-hectare Westside City, the last of the four integrated gaming resorts to rise at the country’s version of the Las Vegas strip along Manila Bay.

Tan’s property arm Megaworld Corp. unveiled on Tuesday a P54-billion increase in capital outlays in its Westside City project in Paranaque’s Pagcor Entertainment Complex for the next 10 years. The initial budget announced in 2015 was only P10 billion.The expansion in capital expenditures will be mostly for new residential and hotel projects, riding on strong demand in this area.

Megaworld’s affiliate, Travellers International Hotels Group Inc., developer and operator of the Resorts World brand in the Philippines, has separately committed to invest $1.1-billion, or roughly P57 billion, to build the Westside City Resorts World complex.

The higher budget earmarked by Megaworld thus brings the Andrew Tan group’s combined capital expenditure for the township to P121 billion or 80 percent higher than the original commitment.

“While a big portion of Westside City will be handled by Travellers International, Megaworld is pouring in a huge amount of money to expand our residential and hotel offerings within the township. The demand is high and we want to tap every available opportunity in this booming side of the metro,” Megaworld senior vice president and treasurer Francis Canuto said in a press statement.

Using the higher budget, Megaworld plans to build two new homegrown hotel brands in Westside City, just in time for the initial opening of the casino complex in 2021. These are the 529-room Kingsford Hotel and the 685-room Grand Westside Hotel, which will be conveniently linked to the casino complex and offer panoramic views of Manila Bay.

“We give our all-out support to the country’s growing tourism industry. Providing more hotel options will further boost tourist arrivals especially in this growth area,” said Canuto.

Aside from the hotels, Megaworld is also building the 15-tower Bayshore Residential Resorts, and the four-tower Gentry Manor. So far, Westside City has around 4,000 units of residential inventory worth around P50-billion.

Based on its masterplan, Westside City will also have a luxury mall and hotels as well as a wide array of leisure and entertainment facilities.

Alveo’s sales take-up at record P45.6B

By: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
06:00 AM February 28, 2018

Alveo Land, the biggest property brand under Ayala Land group, posted a banner year in 2017 as sales take-up hit a record high P45.6 billion, driven by strong demand for urban dwellings in Metro Manila and Southern Luzon.

The sales take-up last year – a good indicator of revenue growth in the coming years – increased by 20 percent from the previous year, allowing Alveo to meet its goal for the year.This year, Alveo expects to sustain the momentum and top last year’s sales output, Alveo president Jennylle Tupaz said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

“(This) 2018 is all about raising our game,” Tupaz said.

Around P40 billion of fresh property inventory will be launched this year to support Alveo’s goal to increase sales output.

Alveo’s project launches this year will consist of around 6,000 units, mostly residential space, doubling the volume brought to the market last year.  But Alveo plans to offer more horizontal projects such as residential and commercial lots.  It also plans to debut into new territories like Bulacan and Cagayan de Oro.

Asked why Alveo was departing from its previous strategy of focusing on vertical or high-rise developments in urban areas, Tupaz said it’s time to expand business “by tapping new markets that were not served in the past.”

“Due to scarcity of land in CBDs (central business districts), we have to source our growth not just within the major CBDs. We really have to go out and tap new markets,” she said.

Last year, Alveo launched P33 billion worth of new inventory, half of which had been sold in the same year.  Alveo’s total inventory last year stood at P59 billion.

For the last few years, Tupaz said Alveo had been trying to break the P40-billion annual sales take-up level.  This was finally achieved in 2017, Alveo’s 15th year of business.

“There’s really a lot of resources domestically. There’s a lot of confidence, even if there’s oversupply in a particular segment, there are good areas like BGC where there’s still lack of supply,” Tupaz said.

Ideally, Tupaz said new inventory would last for one to 1.5 years but in the case of Alveo, inventory was fast dwindling due to strong sales. “Our inventory is good for seven months,” she said.

While Alveo’s business was mostly driven by the domestic market, international sales – referring to units sold to foreigners and overseas Filipinos – accounted for 26 percent of last year’s sales, rising from 24 percent in the previous year. Buyers from mainland China and Hong Kong accounted for 43 percent of total international sales.

About 78 percent of Alveo’s sales take-up last year was derived from Metro Manila.  Makati contributed the biggest bulk at P15.3 billion, growing at the fastest pace at 48 percent, largely attributed to brisk take-up for units at Circuit Makati. The company already has three main projects in this estate, namely residential buildings Solstice and Callisto, and The Stiles Enterprise Plaza for its office offering.

South Luzon accounted for P8.4 billion of sales take-up last year.  Taguig and Ortigas contributed P3.1 billion and P3.7 billion, respectively, while the Quezon City had a share of P4.9 billion. The capital city of Manila contributed P1.1 billion in sales.

The biggest bulk of P26.3 billion of Alveo’s sales take-up last year consisted of condominium sales while P10.8 billion consisted of office sales. Lot sales accounted for P8.2 billion.

This 2018, horizontal projects in the form of residential lots are expected to account for 64 percent of Alveo’s total launches in terms of volume and 42 percent in terms of sales value.

“Majority of our projects are integrated within key Ayala Land mixed-use estates all over the country, which is a great advantage that we always take into consideration. Being in such highly strategic locations provides the best overall investment value for our customers in the long-term.” Tupaz said.

SM, Robinsons, Rustan’s bosses among PH ‘retail icons’

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News
Posted at Feb 28 2018 05:35 AM
Updated as of Feb 28 2018 09:16 AM

MANILA – Twelve icons of retail, whose empires defined how Filipinos shop for everything from headache medicine to engagement rings, were honored by an industry group late Tuesday.

The stories of the tycoons, some of whom started poor, showed how retailers can succeed and keep customers with dedicated service, notwithstanding the threat of e-commerce on brick and mortar stores, said Philippine Retailers Association chairman Lorenzo Formoso.”We’re still bullish and we’re still expanding. We like to serve as much customers as we can,” SM Investments Corp vice president Teresita Sy-Coson, one of the honorees, told ABS CBN News.

Sy-Coson’s father and co-honoree, Henry Sy Sr, founded SM Supermalls, the shopping mall empire he built from a shoe store in old Manila. The SM group now also owns the country’s largest lender, BDO Unibank, and its property arm also builds condominiums and resorts.

The 12 icons were featured in a coffee table book called “Legends, Lives and Legacies,” which the retailers’ group released as part of its 40th anniversary.

“Brick and mortar retailing is still growing. People still want tactile experience, shopping physically but e-commerce is growing also because of convenience. It’s a concern but we have a lot of retailers adapting to e-commerce as well,” PRA president Paul Santos said.

The honorees include:

HENRY SY SR. The country’s richest man according to Forbes Magazine was named “Father of Philippine Retailing.” He is the chairman emeritus of SM Investments Corp.

FERNANDO ZOBEL DE AYALA. The president of Ayala Corp was named “Pillar of Philippine Retail Development.” Ayala Malls are known to incorporate lush green and museum spaces.

JORGE ARANETA. Dubbed “Pioneer of Retail Entertainment,” his family owns an eponymous commercial center in Quezon City. The Araneta Center, home to the Araneta Coliseum and Ali Mall, the country’s first mall, is now also home to a hotel and BPO offices.

SAMMIE LIM. The “Pioneering Pillar of Franchising” managed both family-owned appliance stores Abensons and Automatic Center before he founded Blim’s Furniture.

SOCORRO RAMOS. The “Matriarch of Philippine Retailing” is the founder of National Bookstore, the country’s largest books and office supplies chain. Her employees call her “Nanay Coring.”

JOHN GOKONGWEI JR. The “Champion of Retail Entrepreneurship” owns the Robinsons mall chain, snack food giant Universal Robina and Cebu Pacific, the country’s largest airline.

BIENVENIDO TANTOCO SR. The “Father of Luxury” retailing founded Rustan’s Department Store. His Store Specialists Inc brought to the country, among others, Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Givenchy, Prada and Tory Burch.

MARIANO QUE. The deceased founder of Mercury Drug was named “Father of Health and Wellness Retailing.”

TERESITA SY-COSON. The eldest daughter of tycoon Henry Sy Sr., who helps oversee his business empire, was named “Philippine Retailing’s Woman Visionary Leader.”

ANDREW TAN. Named “Pillar of Mixed-Use Developments,” his Megaworld townships combine condominiums, hotels, shopping malls, office spaces and most recently, casino-resorts.

LUCIO CO. The “Patron of Micro-Retail Entrepreneurship” owns hypermarket chain Puregold.

WILLIAM BELO. The chairman of Wilcon Depot, a one-stop construction and home supplies mega store, was named “Patriarch of Home Building Retail.”

Wilson Tieng-led group submits new proposal for Sangley airport

MANILA, Philippines — The Tieng-led consortium seeking to build an airport off Sangley Point in Cavite has submitted a new unsolicited proposal for the development of a new regional airport hub to be named Philippine Sangley International Airport, industry sources said.

Sought for comment on this, businessman Wilson Tieng told The STAR yesterday that a new plan was submitted but he declined to provide additional details, saying the technical people in charge of the plan is still out of the country.“It’s the same family and it’s the same group,” he merely said.

Tieng said the Philippines would benefit from having additional and better airports.
“We really need new airports…I am excited,” Tieng said.

Tieng said the group is hoping that the Duterte administration will consider its proposal.

In 2016, ARRC with Belle Corp., the high-end property of Henry Sy’s SM Group, submitted a $50 billion  proposal to build an airport and seaport project off Sangley Point in Cavite.

Under the previous proposal, the planned airport would have a capacity of 50 million passengers and was envisioned to accommodate passenger traffic well into the year 2050.

The project will be built in phases, starting with the reclamation of some 2,500 hectares of land near Sangley Point,  the former naval station of the US Navy.

ARRC is led by the Tieng family, who has investments in a television network through Solar Entertainment Corp.

The new proposal, meanwhile,  is envisioned to be an Asian airport hub that can accommodate 120 million passenger per annum once fully developed.

Components of the project include the rehabilitation of the Danilo Atienza Air Base for use as a general aviation airport to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) during the project development phase.

There will also be reclamation of 2,500 hectares to be used for the airport infrastructure and commercial development to complement the project.

The airport is envisioned to be located north of the Sangley peninsula on reclaimed land and will be designed with two parallel independent runways and sufficient airside and terminal capacity to accommodate future demand for domestic, international and transfer traffic, not only for the Philippines but for all South East Asia.

Sources said the project supports the government’s multi airport strategy as it complements other airport infrastructure projects of the government such as Clark International Airport and the redevelopment of NAIA.

The expected development cost of the airport component alone is $12 billion with a concession period of 50 years, sources also said.

“The project will be conducted at no cost to the government.  The country will have a new gateway that can accommodate the projected airport traffic as it seeks to increase tourist arrivals and encourage investment,” according to details of the proposal.

Furthermore, the project will free up NAIA and allow government to redevelop a prime property.

The new proposal was submitted following the P350 billion offer made by seven of the country’s biggest conglomerates to redevelop NAIA, the country’s main but already congested gateway.

Four major infra projects in the pipeline for Mindanao

By: Mark Villaluna
Inquirer Business
04:50 PM February 27, 2018

Four big-ticket infrastructure projects, including a railway, worth at least P124.4 billion will be rolled out in Mindanao to bolster economic activity in the region, according to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III.

Among the flagship projects for Mindanao cited by Dominguez in a press statement on Tuesday were the P5.4-billion Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project Phase 2 in North Cotabato and Maguindanao, which is expected to be completed this year and service almost 10,000 hectares of land in 56 conflict-stricken areas; and the P98-billion Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network Project, which aims to improve some 2,500 kilometers of farm-to-market roads across Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccsksargen and Caraga regions.The other two projects are the P21-billion Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project, which seeks to build and improve a 276-km road network traversing Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay provinces; and the much-anticipated Mindanao Railway Project, which according to the “Build, Build, Build” website is now building the 105-km Tagum-Davao City-Digos segment to connect major cities and economic zones in the area for faster transportation of people, goods and services.

These important public investments for Mindanao, said Dominguez, would fast-track development in the region as spending on infrastructure has the “best multiplier effect” on the economy.

“For many years, the people of Mindanao complained of neglect by Imperial Manila…The many decades of neglect will end now. This island of great promise will be in the front and center of the massive infrastructure program being rolled out by the Duterte administration,” Dominguez said.

“So today is the time for Mindanao,” he added.

Aside from the four mega-projects cited, the government has also earmarked P23 billion for road construction and improvement in Zamboanga Peninsula for this year, which translates to 754 road projects to be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Part of this allocation will be used for projects in Zamboanga City alone, amounting to P1.6 billion, and includes the 36-km Bypass Road Project slated to be finished this year.

Once completed, the project will facilitate the transport of products and services from the different municipalities and cities in the peninsula, including Dipolog and Pagadian, to the Zamboanga Freeport Zone in Labuan, Zamboanga City. The bypass project also aims to cut travel time from east to west of Zamboanga City and vice versa from one hour to 30 minutes.

Dominguez said funding for these big projects would be partly supported by revenue generated from the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, the first package under the Duterte administration’s comprehensive tax reform program.

“Thanks to the support of our taxpayers, we are now ready to implement some of the strategic infrastructure projects that will benefit Mindanao’s economy. These projects will link the outlying communities to the mainstream of national wealth creation,” Dominguez said.

On top of leading the government’s efforts in infrastructure spending, the DOF is also at the forefront in helping fund the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the heavily devastated Marawi City through the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan that is now in its final stages of formulation.

“We want to assure all the people of Mindanao that the Department of Finance is 100 percent behind the rehabilitation of Marawi,” Dominguez said.

“While we are busy financing and launching new infrastructure, let me assure you we have not forgotten communities ruined by war and calamity,” he added.  /muf

Power cooperatives vow to finish projects by 2022

Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star)
February 28, 2018 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Electric cooperatives (ECs) have vowed to complete all pending rural electrification projects by 2022, state-run National Electrification Administration (NEA) said.

The agency said ECs still have over 19,000 villages across the country to energize.NEA administrator Edgardo Masongsong has urged the ECs to come up with strategies to fast-track efforts in providing power supply to all communities by 2022, reminding them of their mandate to ensure that the benefit of electricity reaches every Filipino household.

“The ways of the past were already proven inadequate to the demands of the country’s growing rural economy. We have to catch up, double our efforts and ensure that our services are more than enough to drive the Duterte administration’s economic legacy after 2022,” he said.

The agency recently gathered general managers of different ECs to discuss, among others, the progress of rural electrification projects in their respective coverage areas.

The EC participants pledged their commitment to strongly support the government’s Rural Electrification Program by fast-tracking the implementation of Sitio Electrification Program (SEP), Barangay Line Enhancement (BLEP) and Household Electrification Programs (HHEP).

They also committed to “complete and energize the REP projects for BLEP, SEP, HHEP for the years 2018-2022 and adhere to the rules and regulations of the NEA concerning the efficient utilization and timely liquidation of subsidy funds.”

Based on latest data from NEA, there are still 19,740 sitios that do not have access to electricity, most of which are in Mindanao with 8,535, followed by Luzon with 6,541 and Visayas with 4,664.

The figures are based on updates submitted by the ECs to the NEA in a series of SEP-Phase 2 summits conducted nationwide by its Corporate Planning Department, in coordination with the Accelerated Total Electrification Office, from November 2017 to February 2018.

NEA deputy administrator for technical services Artis Nikki Tortola said the agency is committing to provide necessary assistance to help them in carrying out the electrification projects.

“The end goal is (to ensure) that all potential consumers are energized. NEA will adjust accordingly to the strategies that the electric cooperatives will be taking in order to (keep the projects within) the proposed timeline,” Tortola said.

For this year, the NEA and its partner ECs target to bring electricity to 1,817 sitios–560 in Luzon, 552 in Visayas and 705 in Mindanao.

Further, the agency is requesting P5 billion from the national government to finance the 3,626 electrification projects under SEP for 2019.

Meralco expands solar portfolio

Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star)
February 28, 2018 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s largest power distributor, is contracting another 50 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity – its fourth solar power supply agreement (PSA) – as it looks to expand its solar power supply portfolio.

Meralco president Oscar Reyes said the company has signed a deal with another solar company for a 50-MW supply.Under the deal, the rate agreed upon is P2.98 per kilowatt-hour (kwh), which is subject to competitive selection process (CSP).

The solar capacity, being offered by Pilipinas Newton Energy Corp., is currently undergoing a price challenge, Meralco head of utility economics Lawrence Fernandez said.

“While there is initial agreement with Newton on price and terms, finalization of PSA will have to wait for completion of the price challenge process,” he said.

“Process is being administered by a bids and awards committee and only they can speak about the progress of the price challenge process,” Fernandez said.

The 50-MW supply contract would be Meralco’s fourth solar PSA once the CSP process is completed.

“This would be the fourth solar PSA, after the three that have been filed with the ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission),” Fernandez said.

Meralco has forged three solar PSAs in the past year. The first two contracts involve a 50-MW supply from Solar Philippines Tanauan Corp. at a P5.39 per kwh rate and another 50-MW supply from PowerSource First Bulacan Solar Inc. at P4.69 per kwh.

Solar Philippines will supply 25 MW each from solar farms from its solar farms in Tanauan, Batangas and Naic, Cavite once approved by regulators.

Meanwhile, PowerSource is currently developing a 50-MW solar farm in the municipality of San Miguel, Bulacan which is scheduled for completion in August 2018.

The other PSA was contracted with Solar Philippines Tarlac Corp. (SPTC) earlier this month, covering an 85-MW supply at a rate of P2.9999 per kwh starting 2018.

Power will be sourced from its 150-MW solar farm in Concepcion, Tarlac.

After closing three solar power supply deals, Meralco earlier said it is still looking to add 50 to 100 MW of additional solar capacity to meet the renewable energy requirements of its franchise area.

Currently, Meralco gets its supply from contracts with a capacity worth about 2,000 MW, composed of 1,500 MW from First Gas plants of the Lopez Group and around 400 MW from the Quezon coal power plant.

SMC power unit cleared to acquire Masinloc facilities

Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star)
February 28, 2018 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has cleared the acquisition of the Masinloc power projects in Zambales by San Miguel Corp.’s power unit.

In its approval, PCC cleared SMC Global Power Holdings Corp.’s acquisition of shares in Masin-AES Pte. Ltd., AES Transpower Pte. Ltd. and AES Philippines Inc. to add in its power generation and retail electricity portfolio.SMC Global acquired 51 percent and 49 percent equity interests of AES Phil Investment Pte. Ltd. and Gen Plus B.V., respectively, in Masin-AES; 100 percent equity interest of AES Corp. in AES Transpower; and 100 percent stake of AES Phil in AES Philippines.

PCC said the acquisition “does not result in a substantial lessening of competition in the relevant markets.”

It noted that “there remains sufficient post-acquisition competitive constraints from competitors in the power generation and retail electricity market.”

The agency also said “there appears neither increased ability, nor incentive to engage in anti-competitive foreclosure post-acquisition” and “it is not likely to substantially increase the likelihood that the parties will engage in anti-competitive coordinated behavior.”

AES owns Masinloc coal-fired thermal plant and Masinloc Battery in Zambales and Kabankalan Battery Storage System in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental.

The oldest facility, the Masinloc coal-fired power plant, was privatized by the government in 2008, where AES won the auction for the Zambales-based coal-fired facility with its bid of $930 million.

In December 2017, SMC Global signed a deal with the AES owners and took over the Masinloc power projects for roughly $1.9 billion.

These power facilities will add to SMC Global’s portfolio in the power generation market which currently includes Sual Power Plant in Sual, Pangasinan; San Roque Hydroelectric Multipurpose Power Project in San Manuel, Pangasinan; Ilijan Power Plant in Ilijan, Batangas; Limay Greenfield Clean Coal Plant in Limay, Bataan; Angat Hydroelectric Power Plant in Angat, Bulacan; and Greenfield Powerplants in Malita, Davao del Sur and Limay, Bataan.

P10-billion capital threshold for 3rd telco player scrapped

Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star)
February 28, 2018 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is scrapping the minimum P10 billion net worth requirement for a prospective third telco player, its officer-in-charge Eliseo Rio said yesterday.

“We are no longer basing it on the amount they will invest. We are now basing it on the actual resource and service the prospective player will commit. They have to assure the public that they can roll out in the first five years,” Rio said.Rio said the minimum net worth requirement would be replaced instead by a performance bond issued by the government.

In addition, the third telco player will be required to put in 25 percent of its equity in a bank after 90 days of winning the bidding.

“The performance bond can go higher or lower than P40 billion,” National Telecommunications Commission commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said.

Meanwhile, Rio said the entry of the third major telco player may happen by the middle of the year as the winning bidder may be announced by May or June.

Based on a timeline presented by Cordoba, a public hearing on the first draft joint memorandum circular on rules and regulations on the selection of a new major player is scheduled on March 6.

The first draft was released last Feb. 19.

A second draft MC is scheduled to be published by March 13 after receiving position papers from stakeholders. A public hearing on the second draft is slated on March 23, to be followed by the submission of position papers until March 28.

The final version of the MC is expected to be published on April 9, which will be effective by April 24.

Submission of bids is set on May 24.

Quality of telco service key to choosing 3rd player

By: Miguel R. Camus
Philippine Daily Inquirer
05:25 AM February 28, 2018

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) veered away from its initial steep financial requirements for a prospective challenger to the PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom duopoly, favoring instead a player that can offer better services, internet speed and coverage.

The DICT held its second public stakeholders’ meeting on Monday for the selection of a new major telco player. Up for grabs are unassigned 3G, 4G and potential 5G radio frequencies.Officials, led by DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr., indicated that most items on its Feb. 19 draft—including the requirement for P10 billion in net worth and a primary bid parameter that considers highest committed investment over a five-year period— would be scrapped.

“We are no longer basing it on the amount of money you invest. We are now going to base it on actual results,” Rio said.

The DICT presented on Monday bid parameters recommended by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union as well as its own inputs, which included feedback from potential bidders.

While the final rules would be released around April 9 this year, the government was leaning toward what it described as “highest committed level of service.”

Level of service includes coverage, either in terms of population or geographic reach, committed internet speed, variety of services offered and also the five-year investment commitment.

Rio noted that reach was also important for the government given that around 40 percent of the country was either unserved or underserved by PLDT and Globe.

Potential bidders on Monday welcomed the changes but some were also worried about the business viability of serving smaller areas around the country.

“Globe and [PLDT subsidiary] Smart are not even paying attention to these areas because it is money-losing,” one official from an interested group told the Inquirer. “So we are studying how to make money.”

Rio said the DICT would maintain a performance bond, which would be forfeited in favor of the government should the third telco miss key rollout commitments.

The DICT is also tapping the help of other government agencies in crafting the rules, including the National Economic and Development Authority, the Public-Private Partnership Center and the Insurance Commission.

The bidding is tentatively set on May 24, while awarding could happen by early June 2018 at the latest, said NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba.

This is beyond the March 2018 deadline earlier set by President Duterte. However, Rio previously noted that Malacañang was agreeable to a reasonable extension.

Cordoba further explained that the actual bidding would be a multistep and “open process.” Once bids are in, the DICT will select the best offer, which will then serve as the minimum standard, Cordoba said. Once this is established, all qualified groups will be allowed to improve their proposals “until one bidder remains standing.”

AirAsia PH eyes Manila-Bangkok flights by Q2 2018

AirAsia Philippines has disclosed plans to launch its Bangkok flights from Manila in the second quarter of 2018, an apparent expansion by the domestic unit of the Malaysian budget carrier giant AirAsia Berhad.

“We are looking at launching Bangkok flights this 2Q to expand our Asean network, which also includes Manila/Cebu to Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu and Cebu – Singapore,” the airline said in a statement.Last January 9, AirAsia PH launched its Manila-Jakarta flight. Manila-Bali route started on January 19.

“Bali is AirAsia Philippine’s newest international destination from Manila with flights departing daily from NAIA Terminal 3,” the airline said.

“With AirAsia’s signature low fares, superb service and massive connectivity, AirAsia hopes to bring Bali and the rest of the best island destinations across ASEAN including our very own Boracay, Palawan, Bohol and many others closer together for everyone to enjoy.”

“Our commitment is not only to build leisure destinations but also to help bridge communities and economies across the region as we move toward even greater integration and mutual understanding,” it added.

In November 2017, the airline also kicked off its Manila-Ho Chi Minh City route.    /kga

Cebu Pacific’s Manila-Melbourne flight to takeoff August 2018

By: Miguel R. Camus
Inquirer Business
04:20 PM February 27, 2018

Cebu Pacific Air, the country’s largest budget airline, is launching flights to Melbourne, Australia on August 14, 2018 with regular ticket prices around 50 percent less than competitors.

This is Cebu Pacific’s second route in Australia after inaugurating flights to Sydney in 2014, signaling still-robust demand. It will mount flights between Manila and Melbourne thrice per week – Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.“The launch of our service between Melbourne and Manila will give travelers from Australia seamless connections to other destinations in the Philippines at year-round low fares,” Candice Iyog, vice-president for marketing and distribution of Cebu Pacific, said in a statement.

“This will enable Filipinos living in the Melbourne area to visit their families more often, and encourage more Australian tourists to spend their holidays in the Philippines,” she added.

As with previous launch events, Cebu Pacific is offering a seat sale with a promo fare of P2,199 starting February 27 through March 3 for travel between August 14 and October 31, 2018.

Its so-called year-round fares would start at P9,539, which, Cebu Pacific claimed, is 50 percent to 60 percent less than rival airlines.

Cebu Pacific said its entry into Australia spurred increasing demand growth.

“Since its entry, tourist arrivals from the Philippines has become one of the fastest-growing source markets for Australia, with an average 16 percent increase over the past four years,” the budget carrier said.

Prior to the entry of Cebu Pacific, tourist arrivals from the Philippines stood at around 70,000. Since 2014, that number had climbed to over 120,000, Cebu Pacific noted in its statement.                  /kga

PSEi gains 1.09%, closes near 8,600

By: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
05:15 AM February 28, 2018

The local stock barometer rallied back to nearly 8,600 yesterday as local bargain-hunters were emboldened by the upbeat trading in Wall Street ahead of the first public statement from the new US Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) racked up 92.4 points or 1.09 percent to close at 8,592.38 as investors bet that Powell would not be too hawkish and that he would be just like his predecessor, Janet Yellen.

Except for the mining/oil counter, all other counters gained at the local market. The financial, industrial and holding firm counters all added over 1 percent.

Local stock brokerage Papa Securities said investors could be seeing an opportunity to accumulate on weakness.

Value turnover for the day amounted to P9.25 billion. Domestic investors were still the ones driving the market but net foreign selling declined to P276.98 million compared to P1.53 billion in outflows in the previous day.

There were 119 advancers that edged out 94 decliners while 43 stocks were unchanged.

The PSEi was lifted by JG Summit, which rallied by 5.63 percent, while BDO, URC and AGI all added over 4 percent.

BDO reported record-high net profit of P28.1 billion for 2017, up by 7 percent. It met its earnings goal and maintained the highest bottomline among banking peers for the year. This was the highest net profit level among Philippine banks, reaping the fruits of above-industry asset growth in the last two decades. BDO’s net profit exceeded Bank of the Philippine Islands’ P22.42 billion and Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co.’s P18.22 billion for the same year.

Puregold gained 3.13 percent while SM Investments, Jollibee and PLDT all advanced by more than 1 percent.

Ayala Corp., MPI, SM Prime and GT Capital all firmed up.

Investors also bought stocks outside the main index. APC Group surged by 6.06 percent while PXP gained 4.29 percent in heavy trade.