SM extends P 10B in assistance amid pandemic
Property giant SM Prime Holdings Inc. has extended over P10 billion worth of assistance to business partners, tenants, vulnerable communities and medical front-liners during the lockdown of Luzon and other key regions.
This makes SM Prime one of the single biggest corporate donors during this pandemic. The initiatives do not include those undertaken by other sister companies and foundations under SM Investments Corp.
The P10-billion support was given in the form of cash donations, medical equipment and facilities, direct financial assistance, waived rent in SM malls and salaries paid during the period of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), SM Prime president Jeffrey Lim reported during the company’s stockholders’ meeting on Tuesday.
“This benefited our various stakeholders and front-liners from communities, business partners, employees and service contractors, such as janitors and security guards,” Lim said.Bulk of the assistance came in the form of nationwide shopping mall rent condonation. SM Prime waived P8.8 billion worth of mall rental fees nationwide during the March 16-May 15 lockdown period. Since then, SM Prime has reopened all of its 74 shopping malls nationwie.SM Prime also provided services and access to its properties during this crisis, including building emergency quarantine facilities and converting Mall of Asia Arena into a “mega swabbing facility.”
The coronavirus pandemic has caused severe disruptions in SM Prime’s business across the country. But since the start of the general community quarantine—which eased some of the lockdown protocols under the ECQ—Lim said core businesses had gradually resumed operations.
“We expect the operating environment to continue to be challenging given the so-called new normal,” Lim said.
SM Prime is preparing to resume construction activities on the residential segment, while continuing selling activities online. On the other hand, the office segment remained operational and thus continued to generate revenue during the period.
“While business is not back to normal yet, we remain optimistic about an eventual recovery. We are working not only to sustain the business amid this pandemic but also on the lookout for opportunities that will give long-term value,” Lim said.
The company’s P80-billion planned capital expenditures for 2020 remains intact for the year. At the same time, SM Prime continues to explore “opportunistic acquisitions and/or investments that are well within its core competencies.”
The property giant has also earmarked up to P100 million for its e-commerce platform.
“We will start with our click and collect, which will enable our tenants and our customers to meet virtually in the platform,” Lim said. “Moving forward, we see commerce as a strategy to complement our malls business and connect our retail tenants to our customers.”Meanwhile, SM Prime’s board has approved the declaration of cash dividends of 18.5 centavos per share, with total value of P5.34 billion in favor of stockholders of record as of June 30, 2020, payable on or before July 14, 2020.
“The company is taking all the necessary steps to ensure the well-being of our employees and society. While we maintain a strong balance sheet, the company has decided to prioritize financial flexibility to prepare for what has yet to come,” Lim said —Doris Dumlao-Abadilla INQ
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