MANILA, Philippines—SM Development Corp., the residential property arm of the SM group of tycoon Henry Sy, has expanded its land inventory with the acquisition of the prime property of local insurance firm Philippine American Life and General Insurance Co. along UN Ave. in Manila.
Finally confirming the long-rumored acquisition of the Philamlife property, SMDC said on Friday it had won the property through a bidding conducted last year by Philamlife, which is moving to a new office in Bonifacio Global City. The deal added two hectares of prime property to SMDC’s portfolio.
The SM group’s takeover of the Philamlife property has circulated in social media and blogs a few months ago but the SM group had been mum about it until last Friday.
“In 2012, Philam Life opened its property for sale and SMDC, via a proper bidding process, acquired it in September of that year,” SMDC said in an official statement in reply to a query from Inquirer. The statement was posted on SMDC’s website and Facebook page.
“Realizing the historicity of the Philam Life Complex, SMDC intends to build a condominium complex that includes a world-class, state-of-the-art theater that will be the future home for orchestras, cultural events, school recitals and the like. SMDC is fully cognizant of the heritage that the site has for many Filipinos and will try to preserve its cultural importance,” SMDC said.
This developed as the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra conducted its final performance at the Philam Life Theater on Wednesday last week. The orchestra featured Russian pianist Sofya Gulyak, the first woman to win the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition.
A source privy to the transaction said that while the sale of the property to the SM group was a done deal as of late last year, it was only this year that issues on leasehold ownership were settled.
Philamlife is moving its corporate head office to BGC in April while its customer service center will transfer to Mall of Asia (MOA) Complex in Pasay City in June.
French conductor and artist Olivier Ochanine, music director and chief conductor of Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, created an online petition at advocacy repository website change.org in January addressed to “the owner” of Philamlife theater.
He said: “Please help the Filipino cultural heritage and future by saving the Philam Theater from being destroyed…”
“The removal of this central structure in Manila’s cultural scene would be tantamount to giving a huge blow to the Filipino spirit and would only help the Filipino artist to be swept down a slippery slope toward a Manila that has no interest in Filipino creativity and expression,” he said.