SM Group expanding into tourism, infra
MANILA, Philippines - Mall and banking conglomerate SM Investments Corp. (SMIC) is banking on the distinct advantages and needs of the Philippines for its expansion program.
The Sy family’s investment holding firm is looking for tourism and infrastructure opportunities to go with core business growth expansion, a top company official said.
“We will continue to invest in the Philippines,” SMIC chief financial officer Jose Sio said during a forum sponsored by Dutch banking giant ING and the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines.
“We’ll look at where the Philippine economy going in the next five years, where is the competitive advantage of the Philippine economy vis-a-vis other countries,” he said.
The ASEAN Economic Community, which includes the Philippines and neighboring countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, targets a regional economic integration by 2015.
“We feel tourism is an area that the Philippines could compete with anybody in the world provided we improve infrastructure and we improve peace and order,” Sio said.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) is targeting to attract 10 million foreign tourists by 2016 while encouraging investments in hotels and tourism-related infrastructure. Foreign tourist arrivals jumped 11 percent to 1.27 million in the first quarter of the year, allowing DOT to be on track to attracting 5.5 million tourists this year.
To support the government’s push for tourism, SMIC is looking at toll roads and airport projects, Sio said.
SMIC is behind Premier Airport Group, a consortium that includes Zurich Airport International AG, DM Consunji Inc. and Flughafen Zurich AG. The consortium plans to bid for the P17.5-billion Mactan-Cebu international airport.
“We also see the need for power and energy. As the Philippine economy grows, there will be more demand for energy and power,” Sio said.
The SM conglomerate, through a partnership with global oil giant Chevron, is exploring opportunities for renewable energy in Bohol, Palawan and Samar.
For its core businesses, Sio said SMIC will continue the shopping mall expansion in Visayas and Mindanao.
“We will also expand retail (business) via additional outlets, joint ventures and acquisitions in various part of the country,” Sio said.
From the first ShoeMart store that opened in 1958, the SM Group under holding firm SMIC has expanded into banking (BDO Unibank Inc.), shopping malls (SM Prime Holdings Inc.), retail (SM Retail Inc.) residential development (SM Development Corp.) and tourism and convention centers (SM Hotels and Conventions Corp.)