BIZ BUZZ: Sofitel to take a break—but for how long?

BIZ BUZZ: Sofitel to take a break—but for how long?

/ 02:20 AM May 10, 2024

Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, which is nearly half a century old, is soon closing its doors to make room for major repairs and renovation. Industry sources told Biz Buzz that the hotel had advised its landlord, the state-owned Government Service and Insurance System (GSIS), about such a renovation plan.

Philippine Plaza Holdings Inc. (PPHI) has told the GSIS the hotel operator would assess its next move during the hiatus, a source familiar with the matter told Biz Buzz.

PPHI has long acknowledged that it is losing its competitive edge. With the ongoing Manila Bay reclamation, it has already lost its priceless beachfront.


READ: P4-B Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila rehab planned


The question is whether the shutdown of the hotel will be temporary. The thing is, PPHI has 17 years more to go in its leasing contract and it had even requested an additional 25 years to recoup what it would invest—estimated to be a couple of billions of pesos—to spruce up the iconic hotel.

Even if it doesn’t resume operations, it is still obligated to pay rent to the GSIS.

From what we hear, PPHI is requesting more favorable pricing during the proposed extension period. However, the GSIS is in a bind because it has to consider the interest of its members.

Likewise earlier floated was a plan for the GSIS to swap its future income as landlord of Sofitel for shares in the offshore development arm of the hotel’s Japanese owner, construction firm Kajima Corp. and its Hong Kong-based partner, Allied Properties. This didn’t pan out, however, due to certain restrictions on the investment activities of the pension fund. —Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Equal partners

Tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) maintained that the mega tollway joint venture of Metro Pacific group with fellow billionaire Ramon Ang will be an equal partnership as both parties tally their assets ahead of the expected deal signing within the year.

“The principal is 50:50. If there is a difference in valuation between the two of us, [we’ll make it equal],” Pangilinan told the reporters on the sideline of a press briefing in Makati on Thursday.


READ: Rivals to allies: Ramon Ang to invest in MVP-led Metro Pacific

“If ours is, say, for the sake of argument, 45 percent, we have to make up for the 5 percent,” he added.

Recently, MVP divulged that his $1-billion Indonesian toll business has made the list of assets accounted for in the joint venture.The billionaires have been ironing out details of their joint venture, which is also pending regulatory approval. —Tyrone Jasper C. Piad


Victorias Milling Co. (VMC), the country’s biggest sugar producer, marked another milestone as it celebrated its 105th anniversary on May 7.

As it writes a new chapter, VMC affirmed its commitment to embrace technology trends and innovation “to sustain their growth in a rapidly evolving sugar industry.”

VMC president Linley Retirado vowed that the company would continue to “deliver the highest quality products and services.”

Founded in 1919 as a sugar mill and refinery in Victorias City, Negros Occidental, VMC has since ventured into other businesses including food, power generation, and bioethanol production.

LT Group holds a 30.9-percent interest in VMC.

“Over the years we have faced numerous challenges and overcome countless obstacles but through it all, we have remained steadfast in our pursuit of excellence and even dared to venture into diversification,” Retirado said during the celebration. After its successful rehabilitation, VMC is now seen as a “thriving enterprise.”

VMC chair Wilson Young said they have overcome all the difficulties because of “our workers, our planters, our partners, the local government units that allowed us to celebrate 105 years.”

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said VMC is among the “central figures” and an “enduring symbol” of the economy, history and development of the province.

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“VMC is more than just a company, it is an icon embodying our trials and triumph as the sugar bowl of the country,” Lacson said. —Jordeene B. Lagare 

TAGS: Biz Buzz, Sofitel

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