Ayala Land Inc. sees clinching partnership with Ortigas firm soonBy Doris C. Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — Property giant Ayala Land Inc. expects to conclude “shortly” a much-coveted partnership with the land-rich Ortigas family, confident that its entry as a strategic investor in the latter’s privately held property holding firm was welcomed by a “bigger” number of Ortigas family members.
“We’re taking the required steps right now. We’re right in the way of progressing towards that successful conclusion. We expect that to happen shortly,” ALI president Antonino Aquino told reporters on Thursday at the sidelines of the launch of ALI’s Vertis North urban project in Quezon City.
ALI earlier announced it has obtained authority from its board to negotiate and enter into a strategic alliance with the group led by Ignacio Ortigas for the purpose of allowing the company to participate in the OCLP Holdings Inc., the parent company of Ortigas & Co Ltd. An initial budget of P15 billion had been earmarked for this purpose.
Aquino said ALI could pursue a number of central business districts in Metro Manila simultaneously.
“When you start looking at other countries in Southeast Asia, they have really been able to do all of those developments simultaneously. Because of the slower pace of economic development in the past, we were not as fast, but today with all that these positive news that we’re getting, I’m confident that we’ll accelerate development and it will enable us to get developments in all these multiple areas on a simultaneous basis,” Aquino said.
Aquino is cognizant that before ALI could come in as a stockholder in the Ortigases’ holding firm, it would have to wait for the expiration of the lock-up period, during which the buyers of a 34 percent unloaded by British banking giant HSBC were prohibited to unload their shares.
“We’ll have to respect the shareholders who are there right now. We have to be very respectful of the partnership and all of the commitments and agreements they have entered into,” he said.
Asked whether he was confident that ALI had the critical mass of allies among the Ortigas family, Aquino said: “Of course.”
“I think they have the bigger share. They have a major share,” Aquino said, referring to the group of Ignacio Ortigas.
Tycoon Henry Sy’s SM Investments negotiated to buy the stake held by HSBC and some family members ahead of ALI, but family members afterwards decided to buy out HSBC’s stake and consolidated control of the holding firm within the family. Last week, the group of Ignacio Ortigas formed a “strategic” alliance with ALI.
“Together with our strategic partners, we’re very confident about the fact that we can put in place all of those developmental aspects that we’re known for,” Aquino said.
Asked whether ALI was keen on getting a controlling interest, the ALI chief said: “What’s important is to have very good management involvement and being able to master-plan and being able to identify what are the priority projects that have to be done and implement it and execute it and according to the quality that we’re known for as we have successfully demonstrated in Makati and Bonifacio,” Aquino said.
Aquino noted that most of ALI’s large-scale projects were in fact borne out of partnerships such as with the Bases Conversion Development Authority and Campos groups in Bonifacio Global City and with the National Housing Authority in Vertis North.
“We’ve proven ourselves that we’re very good relative to being fair to our partners, creating value for our partners and at the same time, being able to develop something very nice in those areas,” he said.
Moving forward, Aquino said the strategic alliance should have overall management control of the entire process. He said the right structure would have to be put in place to be able to exercise management direction in the projects to be managed.
Asked which landholdings of the Ortigases appealed most to ALI, Aquino said the Capitol Commons mixed-use project in Pasig and the Greenhills commercial complex.
“The company has solid tracts of land that are prime for any type of development or redevelopment,” Aquino said.
The Ortigas holding firm has a landbank of 50 hectares spanning Quezon City, Pasig, San Juan and Mandaluyong. Another 40 hectares of prime land can be added to its land bank, which include portions of Camp Crame (10 hectares) and Camp Aguinaldo (30 hectares), which were donated to the government years ago but which it has the right to buy back from the government.
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