Davao City ideal for casino, gaming investments

RLC, Hong Kong Land to invest P5.6B in residential enclave

By Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:59 PM May 08, 2018

Gokongwei-led property developer Robinsons Land Corp. has teamed up with Hong Kong Land Group to jointly invest around P5.6 billion to develop a residential enclave in fast-rising IT park Bridgetowne East in Pasig City.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Tuesday, RLC announced the creation of a joint venture corporation which will be 60-percent owned by RLC and 40-percent owned by Hong Kong Land Group (HKLG).

“This collaboration combines the experience, vision and financial capability of RLC and HKLG; bringing together local expertise and international design that stand as landmarks in key Asian cities. The project is envisioned to transform the landscape of Pasig City, adding to it a well-planned township of mixed-use development with skyscrapers imbued with international appeal,” the disclosure said.

Hong Kong Land is represented in this property deal by Hong Kong Land International Holdings Ltd. and its subsidiary Ideal Realm Ltd.

The joint venture will initially undertake the purchase of a 1.8-hectare property situated in Block 4 of Bridgetowne East, aiming to “develop the property into a residential enclave and likewise carry out the marketing and sales of the residential units.”

However, the joint venture also plans to pursue other development projects.

The deal between RLC and Hong Kong Land has been cleared by the country’s anti-trust agency Philippine Competition Commission.

ALI Q1 profit rises on higher real estate, commercial revenues

By Arra B. Francia
BusinessWorld / 06:09 PM May 8, 2018

Earnings of Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) went up by 17% during the first quarter of 2017, supporte by its aggressive real estate and commercial expansion.

In a statement issued Tuesday, ALI disclosed a net income of P6.52 billion for the January to March period, supported by a 17% growth in revenues to P36.98 billion.

Residential revenues expanded by 34% to P21.77 billion, pushing property development revenues 29% higher to P25.14 billion. Local demand for property lifted reservation sales by 16% for the quarter to P31.5 billion.

On the other hand, revenues from the commerical leasing segment firmed up 11% to P8.16 billion for the quarter.

For the first quarter, ALI said it has already spent P26.7 billion out of the P111-billion capital expenditure it plans to roll out this year. Forty-one percent of the capex was allocated for residential developments, 23% for equity investments including MCT Bhd and Prime Orion Philippines, Inc., 22% for commercial leasing projects, 9% for land acquisition, and 5% for estate development.

Shares in ALI went up 10 centavos or 0.25% to close at P40.10 each at the Philippine Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

Davao City ideal for casino, gaming investments — study

By Maya M. Padillo
BusinessWorld / 12:03 AM May 8, 2018

DAVAO CITY — A study conducted by consultancy firm Property Interactive Marketing Enterprise (PRIME Philippines) indicates that Davao City is one of the most ideal locations for casino, gaming, and hotel investments.

“In our report for this month we tackled the current settings of the Philippines, why is it viable for the said industries. We would like to encourage investors of hotel or casino operators to go to Davao as (it is) really a viable place for the said industries,” Raphil D. Saguan, PRIME Philippines capital markets and investment associate, told media in a forum last week.

The firm cited that there was an 11.6% increase in casino and offshore gaming gross revenue from 2016 to 2017 in the Philippines, which can be attributed to the growth of the country’s international market.

Mr. Saguan said Davao is a good site because of the growing population that could serve as a source of both clientele and labor force, low poverty incidence, and increase in tourism traffic.

“As you look at it, we have a very good population (here), we can outsource human resources, and we have buying power,” he said.

He also cited that Davao has an average annual income of P247,000, which is close to the national average of P267,000.

“We see spending power among Davaoeños,” he said.

Competition in the casino and gaming sector is also low with only two existing major establishments.

“Only the one in Grand Regal (Hotel) and the one in Apo View Hotel,” Mr. Saguan said.

For tourism, the PRIME Philippines official said, “Currently we have 3.6 days average length of stay of tourists, both foreign and local, and daily expenditures is P4,270. That’s quite high. We also look at the higher demand of tourism related facilities or hotels. Despite having 10,512 rooms in 318 accommodations, we are still short.”

The company has standing non-disclosure agreements with five international hotel operators that are keen on expanding in Davao with the expected increase in direct international flights.

“We’re talking about a European based hotel, an American, and a Swiss, definitely these are world-renowned brands. They are interested in mainly putting up a hotel,” Mr. Saguan said.

Agriculture production surges 1.47% in Q1

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine agriculture grew for the fifth straight quarter buoyed by surge in production in the crops, livestock and poultry subsectors, the government reported Tuesday.

Agricultural production in the first three months of the year met the government’s 1 percent target to rise 1.47 percent, although the latest turnout was the smallest gain recorded in the five consecutive quarters of positive growth.

Coming from a high base of 5.28 percent in the comparable period last year, the Agriculture department said the minimal growth was expected already, The STAR said in a tweet report.

At current prices, gross value of agricultural production stood at P444 billion, 8.94 percent higher than last year’s earnings.

Broken down, the crops production, which accounted for 53.76 percent of total agricultural output, went up by 1.79 percent. Meanwhile, the livestock and poultry subsectors registered 2.11 percent and 5.24 percent growth in output, respectively.

Fisheries production, however, sagged by 4.61 percent.

Agricultural output has historically contributed a tenth to the country’s gross domestic product.

The Philippines Statistics Authority will release the first quarter GDP data on May 10. — with a report from Louise Maureen Simeon

DoubleDragon opens flagship project in Pasay

By Arra B. Francia
BusinessWorld / 12:09 AM May 8, 2018

DOUBLEDRAGON Properties Corp. officially opened on Monday its flagship office and retail project, which has been seeing strong demand from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) due to its location in the Bay Area.

Called the DoubleDragon Plaza, the 11-storey project offers 130,000-square meter (sq.m.) of leasable office space and an additional 12,000 sq.m. of retail space on the ground floor. The project is located at the corner of Macapagal Avenue and EDSA Extension along the Bay Area in Pasay City.

DoubleDragon said it has already leased out 97% of the office hub to a mix of corporate, business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, and POGOs. Around 60% of the tenants are POGOs, according to DoubleDragon Chief Investment Officer Marianna H. Yulo.

“We have a mix of tenants. We have a lot of corporate here, we have some POGOs and BPOs. We have 60% for POGOs, so that’s about 70,000 or 80,000 sq.m. for POGOs,” Ms. Yulo told reporters on the sidelines of the project’s inauguration in Pasay City yesterday.

Real estate consultants have been reporting higher demand for office spaces from POGOs at the Bay Area, as the warming relations between China and the Philippines prompted gaming firms to expand in the country.

Ms. Yulo said leasing rates at the DoubleDragon Plaza are currently at P860 per sq.m., higher than their initial projection when the office was just being constructed.

“When we started this project in 2015, we were projecting lease rates this year at about P600 to P650 and we’re already able to achieve P860. So that’s quite a bit of yield that’s unexpected, but we’re very happy about it,” Ms. Yulo said.

DoubleDragon Plaza is the first phase of DoubleDragon’s 4.75-hectare DD Meridian Park in Bay Area. The company is currently completing two more office towers called DoubleDragon Center East and West with a gross leasable space of 30,000 sq.m., set to be finished within the year.

The DoubleDragon Tower, a premium Grade A office building, will be part of the third phase of development, while the DD-Ascott Meridian Park will be opened for the fourth phase. The luxury serviced apartment operated by Ascott will occupy a 5,567-sq.m. lot, and will offer more than 300 units.

By the end of its development in 2020, DD Meridian Park will have a total gross leasable area (GLA) of 280,000 sq.m.

Ms. Yulo noted, however, that DoubleDragon’s leasable spaces are still primarily in second and third tier cities in the country, citing the company’s vision of developing 100 CityMalls by 2020.

“Most of our leasable space will still come from CityMalls, because we’re building 100 CityMalls that’s going to give us 700,000 sq.m. of leasable space by 2020. This is just our flagship project in Metro Manila, but majority of our projects are still in second and third tier cities,” the DoubleDragon executive said.

DoubleDragon booked a consolidated net income of P2.53 billion in 2017, 71.8% higher year on year, while recurring revenues stood at P1.31 billion.

Shares in DoubleDragon gained 25 centavos or 0.82% to close at P30.75 each at the stock exchange on Monday.

Six gov’t agencies set to move to New Clark City

By Janina C. Lim
BusinessWorld / 08:57 PM May 7, 2018

THE Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) said six more government agencies are set to transfer to New Clark City (NCC) after President Rodrigo R. Duterte signs an administrative order by the end of June.

BCDA President Vivencio B. Dizon declined to identify the agencies but said that of those moving, “several will… be involved in infrastructure development, disaster preparedness and disaster response and management.”

“Later on, there will be other government agencies. We will know what those agencies are and how many once the administrative order is final and has been signed by the president,” Mr. Dizon said during a briefing and forum on Monday in Pampanga.

In a separate interview with BusinessWorld, he said the draft will be ready within the first half of the year.

“The order will outline the phasing plan,” he said. Mr. Dizon added that many agencies have approached the BCDA to voluntary transfer their offices to Clark.

Late last year, the BCDA said that it is tapping the Departments of Science and Technology, Justice, Environment and Natural Resources, the Office of Civil Defense and the Climate Change Commission to relocate to NCC.

The government hopes to decongest Metro Manila while building a central hub of government agencies outside the capital to make the national government more resilient in the event of a natural disaster.

The first phase of the city is set for completion by 2022, while construction of the Manila-Clark railway will start in the last quarter of 2018. The rail line is expected to be completed by the last quarter of 2021.

The Department of Transportation has led the relocation efforts to the NCC from its office in the Ortigas district.

Globe open to cell tower partnership with PLDT

By Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo
BusinessWorld / 12:07 AM May 8, 2018

GLOBE TELECOM, Inc. is open to a tie-up with rival PLDT Inc. to create a company specializing in cellular tower construction, one of the businesses that has been proposed for the telecom industry “third player.”

Globe President and CEO Ernest L. Cu on Monday said that while no direct approach to PLDT has been made over a possible tower venture, he said that working with PLDT and other entrants has the potential to reduce capital outlays.

Globe said in February that it was in talks with certain parties to form an independent tower company and divest some or all of its tower assets, to help speed up the building and deployment of cellular towers in the Philippines, and as part of its network expansion and optimization plan.

“We don’t want to approach because of the competitive issue, collusion. So, we’ve always been open to sharing. We are not into exclusivity. We like the open market. We think it benefits both of us. Costs will be lower,” Mr. Cu told reporters on the sidelines of the Globe financial results briefing on May 7.

One of the business models being considered for the “third player” is to build towers for cell sites, due to obstacles in awarding it sufficient frequency to compete with the incumbents.

Mr. Cu has said that divestment of their tower assets will free up capital and help it maintain dividend levels. The towers to be constructed will be open for lease to new and existing players.

Globe tapped UBS Group AG as its financial adviser at the end of February. Chief financial officer Rosemarie Maniego-Eala said that the company is reviewing its strategic options in regard to a tower divestment.

“At the moment we do not have estimates for anything around the transaction. We’re still in the process of scoping a lot of the items needed to go through with structuring the deal,” Ms. Eala said in the news conference.

General counsel Vicente Froilan M. Castelo said the company is still deciding on which tower assets to retain or to divest.

He added that an independent tower company will help reduce the difficulties in getting permits for the construction of cell towers, which range from 23 to 26, including social acceptability permits required by some local government units (LGUs), as well as charges based on income earned from a tower.

Both Globe and PLDT have cited the difficulties in obtaining permits as the main problem hindering the construction of more cell sites which will improve coverage. The country only has 16,000 cell sites, with Globe controlling 8,000.

Mr. Castelo added that a leasing structure would do away with franchise taxes that some LGUs charge “on our supposed income generated by the towers.”

PLDT was asked for comment but has not replied as of deadline time.

Globe reported a net profit of P4.6 billion in the first quarter of 2018, up 23.69% from a year earlier, due to higher services revenue from increasing data demand.

Consolidated service revenue amounted to P33.2 billion, mainly from data-related products across all segments. The company said this is due to the increase in consumption of video streaming and on-demand entertainment.

Mobile revenue hit P25.5 billion because of the growing demand for data.

“From a product perspective, mobile data remains the top contributor to total mobile revenue, accounting for 48%,” Globe said in a statement.

Mobile data service revenue amounted to P12.3 billion in the first quarter. Mobile data traffic increased by 37% year on year to 180 petabytes.

Mobile SMS and mobile voice revenue came in at P5.6 billion and P7.6 billion, respectively.

For the home broadband business, Globe booked P4.3 billion in revenue.

The home subscriber base was 1.4 million at the end of March, up 17% year on year.

“The results were driven by subscriber expansion in fixed wireless solutions (+30%), the introduction of new broadband bundles and GoUnli plans which provide customers value for money, fast and reliable connections and world class entertainment,” Globe said.

Globe capital spending was P6.6 billion in the first quarter, with 64% going to data services. The company has a capex budget of $850 million or around P50 billion this year.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.

Globe shares rose P105 or 7.12% to P1,580.

DOE may require oil firms to disclose cost breakdown for fuel pricing

The Department of Energy (DoE) plans to be “stringent” in monitoring the prices of petroleum products by requiring oil companies to disclose the breakdown of the cost components that go into the pricing of fuels.

“Identification of the costing for the major components of these petroleum products that may affect the pump prices would provide a higher level of transparency for our consumers, particularly the motorists,” said DoE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said in a statement on Tuesday, May 8.

Amazon.com opens first customer service office in Philippines

MANILA – Amazon.com said Tuesday it launched its first customer service office in the Philippines, creating 300 new jobs and up to 1,000 more by year-end at its base in Cebu City.

The world’s largest online retailer is betting on customer service in the Philippines as government and industry officials prepared to shift over 1 million BPO workers to higher skilled roles that will not be replaced by artificial intelligence.

The site will provide support for Amazon customers in North America and the United Kingdom. It employs customer service associates, team managers and group managers, the internet giant said in a statement.

“We are excited to be investing in Cebu and working with such talented people, especially since Filipinos are known to bring high levels of experience and passion to their work,” said Amazon vice president for Worldwide Customer Service Tom Weiland.

The Philippines has hosted Amazon Web Services since 2016 and the country is “integral” to the growth of the cloud platform in Southeast Asia, the company said.

The company said job opportunities for its customer service operations in Cebu are posted on its website.

MiCab partners with Japanese firm for in-cab advertising

By Denise A. Valdez
BusinessWorld / 06:56 PM May 8, 2018

Taxi-hailing application MiCab announced it is partnering with Japanese advertising firm Hallohallo Business Inc. to launch MiAds, or mobile internet advertising, which it said will generate profit for the company.

Assuring customers it will not implement surge pricing and booking charge, MiCab said the advertising services, aside from taxi subscription fees, will keep their business sustainable.

“Passengers can hail taxis through MiCab app, where they can enjoy zero booking fees and absolutely no surge pricing, as these will be shouldered by the revenue earned from MiAds,” MiCab said in a statement Tuesday, May 8.

The joint venture is expected to up MiCab’s base of partner taxis to 15,000 across the six cities where it operates. Through MiAds, Android tablets will be placed on taxi units and will flash 15-second advertisements to up to 80 passengers per taxi in a day.

Grab Philippines to launch new app interface, features in July

By Denise A. Valdez
BusinessWorld / 06:51 PM May 8, 2018

Grab Philippines (MyTaxi.ph, Inc.) is looking to launch in July new features in its ride-hailing mobile application.

In a statement, the transportation network company (TNC) said the new interface will make it easier for users to pin pick-up points on the map, avoiding mismatch in locations. Rewards will also be categorized so passengers may easily redeem the app’s offers.

“Our aim is to be our passengers’ partner for better trips at all times. We have carefully studied new features that will further enhance our services while ensuring passenger safety on the road,” Grab Country Head Marketing Manager Cindy Toh was quoted as saying.

Grab will also roll-out an in-app SOS button, which riders may use to report any untoward incident during a ride. Upon tapping the button, the application will connect the user to 911 and send text messages to registered contacts in case of emergency.

To better address complaints, the TNC is urging its users to send their complaints through the app’s “Help Center”. It said it is partnering with a call center which will receive concerns raised by riders.

“We know that this is not easy. While we cannot change everything overnight, we can assure that the Grab experience will only get better,” Ms. Toh added.