SM eyes FTI property

Posted at 07/02/2012 7:37 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The SM conglomerate of mall and banking tycoon Henry Sy is keen on joining the auction for a large block in state-owned Food Terminal Inc. (FTI) in Taguig.

Bagging the 74-hectare property, which was subject to numerous delays, will allow the company to pursue more mixed-use developments, an executive said.

In a chance interview, Henry Sy Jr., vice-chairman and chief executive of SM Development Corp., told The STAR that the SM group will join the bidding for the FTI property.

“Of course,” Sy said when asked if the SM group is interested to bid for the property.

“I will be interested,” Sy said, adding that the conglomerate is just waiting for the bidding terms.

Early this month, the Department of Finance’s Privatization Management Office announced that 74 hectares of the 103-hectare FTI agro-industrial complex is up for sale anew following three years of delay and three failed biddings.

The government will retain the rest of the property for various purposes. FTI is one of the largest industrial complexes in Metro Manila and is currently home to more than 300 companies.

“That will be perfect for mixed-use (development),” Sy said.

Sy said SM Development, for its part, will build high-end but affordable condominium projects in the area.

Holding firm SM Investments Corp. has five core businesses -- retail (SM Retail Inc.), malls (SM Prime Holdings Inc.), banking (BDO Unibank Inc. and China Banking Corp.), property (SM Development) and hotel and entertainment (SM Hotels and Conventions Corp.).

“The 70-hectare lot is large enough for landbanking. This would give them more available lots to develop, thus opening opportunities for additional revenue streams,” said Freya B. Natividad, investment analyst at brokerage firm 2Trade-Asia.com.

However, the SM group could end up competing with Ayala Land Inc. of the Zobels, Empire East Land Holdings Inc. of property tycoon Andrew L. Tan, Filinvest Land Inc. of the Gotianuns and Robinsons Land Corp. of the Gokongweis who were reportedly interested for the prime property.

The government last year scrapped its plan to sell the property for at least P13 billion as it reappraised the property.

The government declared the 2009 bidding a failure as no offers turned up due to unfavorable market conditions arising from the global financial crisis.

Part of the proceeds will go the Department of Agrarian Reform for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and to the Department of Agriculture.

With the sale, the government expects economic activities in Taguig City and nearby areas to flourish as employment increases and transport linkages in the complex improves.