Tiu family draws more suitors for stake in Discovery World resort firm
MANILA, Philippines—At least three local business groups and one Chinese real estate developer are eyeing a stake in publicly listed Discovery World Corp., signalling a possible bidding war for the luxury resort developer controlled by the Tiu family, the Inquirer learned.
Two sources familiar with negotiations for a stake in the firm said these potential minority partners are in addition to Metro Pacific Investments Corp. which confirmed last week that it was in talks to acquire a stake in the firm that owns the popular Discovery Shores resort in Boracay and Club Paradise in Palawan, among others.
“There’s a very big Chinese real estate developer who approached the Tius recently, and there’s also a young and aggressive local billionaire, a consortium of businessmen and another billionaire who are interested, on top of MVP’s group,” said the source, referring to the initials of MPIC chair Manuel V. Pangilinan.
Rumors of a new investor sent the company’s share price higher, from P2.59 apiece at the start of 2021 to a peak of P6.81 early last February. It currently trades at P4.43 per share on the Philippine Stock Exchange.
The source said the Tiu family has so far indicated a willingness to welcome new investors as business partners who could end up owning as much as 20 percent of the firm.
“But definitely, the Tius will stay in control,” the source said, adding that the goal of bringing in a new partner is to develop Discovery World’s extensive holdings of resort-oriented properties around the country, with the financial muscle of external investors.
“There’s no talk of selling control to MVP or any other group,” said the source.
In addition, at least two potential partners have signified interest in ploughing in their own properties into the portfolio of the Tiu family’s firm and developing them under the popular Discovery marketing brand.
“These potential partners believe in the potential of Philippine tourism, and locally branded high end real estate,” a second official said, requesting anonymity because negotiations were ongoing.
One property Discovery World is keen on expanding is their relatively new Kip & Kin resort in El Nido, Palawan which is being marketed for younger “millennial” travellers. Also in the pipeline is the development of a Discovery resort in the mountains of Benguet.
The source said the company’s suitors are particularly interested in the firm’s large land bank and resort portfolio, currently made up of Discovery World Corp., Euro-Pacific Resorts Inc., ship-based diving operations firm Discovery Fleet Corp., Cay Islands Corp., Discovery Hospitality Corp., Long Beach Property Holdings Inc., Lucky Cloud 9 Resort Inc., Palawan Cove Corp., Sonoran Corp. and Balay Holdings Inc.
“All the properties listed here are worth at least three times more than their current prices, so that seems to be attractive for these investors,” the official said.
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