Friday, March 22, 2013

Construction in progress at DMCI’s Zinnia Towers

 (The Philippine Star) 

Artist’s illustration of Zinnia Towers’ amenity core
MANILA, Philippines - The first quarter of 2013 augurs well for the middle-income property market, particularly future unit owners at Zinnia Towers, a residential project located on a 1.9-hectare property along North EDSA, Quezon City. Construction proceeds right on schedule as DMCI Homes continues work on the North Tower, including the building’s ramp. Excavation and concreting are already being undertaken on sections of the basement wall and perimeter wall.
DMCI Homes is the residential development arm of the Consunji conglomerate which is widely admired for its engineering portfolio spanning more than 50 years in nation-building industries. Now regarded as one of the country’s leading developers, DMCI Homes has set a sterling record of building low to medium-density condominium communities within reach of middle-income families that seek quality homes and a lifestyle upgrade at the heart of the metro district.
Every project of DMCI Homes lives up to its reputation of delivering superior engineering techniques to the condominium structures, as well as space efficiency down to every unit’s floor plan. Zinnia Towers features the high-rise innovation of Lumiventt that promotes healthy living through ambient light and fresh air to permeate the building and all unit spaces within.

Another assurance of DMCI Homes’ craftsmanship is further demonstrated in Zinnia Towers ’ as it offers two years quality warranty that covers free repairs on any workmanship defects of the units, a provision that applies in all other DMCI Homes projects.
Zinnia Towers is a tropical themed high-rise condominium community which consists of two buildings. The North Tower ’s 836 units are being offered in one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom layouts available in 10 unit configurations catering to varying needs of discerning house seekers. North tower will be completed by May 2016.
Future residents can expect to enjoy a wide array of features with 70 percent of the entire development will be devoted to open areas that incorporate first-class development features and lifestyle amenities such as clubhouse, swimming pool complex, children’s play area, barbecue pits, and koi pond. Also, there will be garden trails, picnic grove, palm promenade, jogging path, Sky Park and an open field that affirm DMCI Homes’ admirable landscapes.
Location is an additional value for the future homeowners of Zinnia Towers with its accessibility to different transportation means, being located just 1.6 km from SM North EDSA and other places of interests. For Project inquiry, contact us at +639173236123.

Acqua Private Residences: Designed for luck

 (The Philippine Star) 

Acqua Private Residences’ towers are designed to gradually ascend towards the east -- an auspicious direction, with Acqua Iguazu (rightmost) serving as the pinnacle.
MANILA, Philippines - Gone are the days when building design was made for design’s sake. Today, developers consider culture as a contributory factor in the success of their projects, whether in aspects of aesthetics or esoteric beliefs. A whole slew of elements, practical or otherwise, must conjoin to create the perfect residential development.
For instance, on the aspect of a property’s location, the Feng Shui masters say that the Pasig River is an auspicious body of water. It’s no wonder developers are slowly bringing their business to this flowing symbol of life. Thanks to Century Properties, a lucky number of Filipinos will get the chance to harness the luck that this ever flowing body of water brings.
The developer known for its premium residential developments is building Acqua Private Residences, a multi-tower residential development along the banks of the historic and regenerating river. 
“Acqua Private Residences is our way of providing an enhanced way of life to Filipinos through its location and overall design,” said Century Properties co-chief operating officer and Acqua project head Marco Antonio.
With Acqua, Century Properties upped the ante in mid-market condominium development. The entire community is adapting a tropical rainforest theme, specially created to offer residents an oasis in the middle of the city.
Water is a permeating element in the development. All of the Acqua towers are named after the most famous waterfalls in the world – Niagara, Sutherland, Dettifoss, Livingstone and Iguazu. 
Century takes the condominium experience to a whole new level with three waterfalls flowing from the façade of Acqua’s country club. Initially enhancing the structure’s magnificence, it also gives this portion of the river a revitalized atmosphere.

Coincidentally, in Chinese Feng Shui, flowing water symbolizes good luck, and the three waterfalls resemble the Three Chinese Hawks, which stand for long life, happiness and prosperity. 
The location could not indeed be any luckier. Launched only in 2011, the masterplanned community has already introduced its fifth tower, Acqua Iguazu yoo inspired by Starck, interior designed by the internationally acclaimed firm founded by John Hitchcox and Philippe Starck. 
Acqua offers a community replete with greens, amenities that support healthy lifestyles and reflect the taste of its many residents, and a public space where visitors can share in Century’s vision of a revitalized river.
The property’s central amenity is the 3,000 square meter Pebble, a country club by the water equipped with a variety of facilities for wellness and recreational activities. To further drive the community’s social and business activities, the 300-meter boardwalk called the Riverwalk Promenade will feature an array of restaurants, boutiques and cafes for both residents and visitors.
Add to this all the open space, abundant greenery, pocket and sky gardens within the towers and you have a self-sustaining community.
Combined with the practical advantages of the development, Acqua Private Residences is indeed designed for luck. For Seller accreditation or Buyers inquiry, contact us at +639173236123.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Entrepreneur recalls challenges in starting coffee chain venture

Thursday, March 14, 2013
CEBUANO entrepreneur Steve Benitez urged aspiring young entrepreneurs to pursue their passion.
This, he said, is one of the best business practices he adopted.
He said his fondness for travel and coffee led him to establish Bo's Coffee, one of the country's fastest growing coffee chains today.
Speaking before the break-out session for Young Entrepreneurs Group in Asia-Pacific during the Confederation of Asia Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) conference yesterday, Benitez said his love for coffee started during his law school years. Coffee kept him awake while studying.
In his travels abroad, Benitez said, he looks forward to visiting coffee shops.
Inspired by his "coffee experience" abroad, Benitez thought of putting his own coffee chain so Cebuanos can get to taste coffees of various blends.

He studied coffee-making for two years and in 1996, he opened a coffee kiosk with six tables in Ayala Center Cebu.
Benitez said through his business, he wanted to showcase the country's coffee and develop the Filipino talents in the coffee industry.
But starting out the business was not easy. It took years for the business to grow.
He recalled he had a hard time inviting people to buy his coffee, which was priced at P15 to P25 during that time.
"I was giving it away for free for three months just to introduce it in the market," he said. "If it was purely for business, the shop would have closed after a few months. But since it was my passion, I never gave up," he said.
Benitez said that for six years he did not obtain a loan because the profit he earned was ploughed back to his business. He said it was only during the establishment of his flagship store that he sought funding.
He said it took him two years to expand to Manila because he wanted to strengthen the brand in Cebu first.
"The first eight stores were considered the fun stage of my journey but when I started going out of Cebu I became more serious in the business," he said.
Bo's Coffee now has 60 branches nationwide, 25 of which are franchised.
Benitez said another factor that helped him grow was putting in place the system before going full-blast with the expansion.
The company also adopted the latest technology to facilitate seamless branch transaction. Benitez made some innovations, such as the reinvention of his coffee outlets, to highlight Filipino traits.
Bo's Coffee gets its coffee beans from Cordillera, Benguet and Bukidnon.
Benitez, who is also a member of the Philippine Coffee Board, said they are now aggressive in enhancing the country's Arabica coffee to ensure a steady supply.
He said there is a gap in coffee production here with only 30,000 tons being produced this year against a 75,000-ton annual demand.
"We go around teaching the farmers techniques to enhance coffee production," he said.
Benitez is also confident that the upcoming Asean integration by 2015 would open windows for more trade opportunities in the coffee industry.
Laura del Rosario, undersecretary for Economic Diplomacy of the Department of Foreign Affairs, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Philippines should be given priority given that they are the country’s biggest employment generator.
At present, the country's SMEs employ 60 percent of the workforce but only accounts 36 percent of the output. Del Rosario said if road infrastructure

Cebu’s BPO grew to 100 firms gives 1.9B Revenue to Cebu per Month

Thursday, March 14, 2013
FROM having just four companies at the start of the decade, Cebu City has become one of the top places to go for outsourcing, with over 100 companies and 95,000 workers at the end of 2012.
Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology (Cedf-IT) executive director Wilfredo Sa-a Jr. said the work they have done has contributed much to the development of the business process outsourcing (BPO), and information and communication technology (ICT) industry in Cebu.
Cedf-IT’s projects include creating a human resource survey and monitoring unit, an IT teachers' academy to train instructors regarding, the Philippine IT general certification exam and bridge courses programs.
Sa-a was one of the speakers during the breakout session of the Asian ICT Council of the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) conference held yesterday at the Radisson Blu Hotel.
Sa-a said they also conducted study tours in India, South Korea, Silicon Valley and Taiwan to see how they were going about the outsourcing industry, which has led to Cebu's being in the top 10 cities for outsourcing for three years now.

Fellow speaker Jerry Rapes, president of software service company Exist Quest, said the software services industry in the country brought in $1.5 billion in revenue in 2012, growing 50 percent from the previous year.
It also registered a 10-percent growth in employment, with 55,000 IT professionals now working in the industry.
IT-BPO revenues are at an all-time high of $13 billion with 780,000 workers. The goal is to grow these numbers to $15 billion and 900,000 by 2016.
Rapes identified several qualities that make the Philippines a viable location for this industry. He noted that out of 76 countries that took a test on business English, the Philippines scored above 7.0, higher than some English-speaking countries, which surprised him.
The score means Filipinos can attend meetings, contribute and converse in English.
He cited the case of his company, wherein a client can speak with everyone in the team and not just to the project manager.
The country also has about 500,000 graduates a year, which makes scalability doable for many companies. With only four percent of the population above 65 years old, Rapes said the rest of the country can excel in chosen fields.
In demand
Majority of these graduates have finished courses in medical and health services, engineering, technology and IT and business courses, which he said are fields that are in demand worldwide.
The country's business fundamentals are also something to consider, pointing that the Philippine Stock Exchange sees a 32.95 percent full year return and is the third among the top bourses in 2012, according to the World Federation of Exchanges.
Finally, he said Cebu is a complete destination and that aside from its progress in business, it is also a hot tourist spot, getting recognition from publications like Conde Nast, the New York Times and Travel and Leisure.
However, it is not without its challenges.
Rapes noted the skills gap between graduates and professionals can be difficult for companies that are in a hurry to hire. Attrition rates are also high, averaging in double-digit figures which leads to rising costs of hiring and retention.
The strengthened peso is also a problem, bringing in 13 percent value in losses, while the country's infrastructure has always been identified as a problem for Philippine business.
The Philippines also lacks middle-level managers to sustain a company's growth momentum, as most of them tend to take jobs overseas.

Cebu ‘showcases PH’s growth’

By Mia A. Aznar
Saturday, March 16, 2013
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III considers the holding of the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) Conference in Cebu “a good sign”, saying it means the international community recognizes Filipino talent and ingenuity.
In a message to CACCI members read by Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras, President Aquino highlighted the country’s 6.6 growth and its jump by 12 places in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Report as achievements that his administration has worked hard for and were not attained through “mere luck.”
He added that Cebu is a good place to showcase how well the country’s economy has done, citing the six manufacturing zones with 278 locators exporting $3.5 billion in goods last year and the 139 outsourcing companies that have employed 95,000 workers.
Eliminating corruption and instilling a culture of justice he said, have been “a most essential step” his administration had to work for to bring hope to the country.
Aside from the CACCI, the Philippines will host other international meetings like the World Economic Forum next year and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in 2015.
Almendras, for his part, said no government can make a good economy on its own without the private sector. He admitted leftist groups have accused him of acting as a protector for the interests of the business community because of his background before entering public service. Still, he acknowledged that chambers of commerce have a big role to play when it comes to economic growth.
“The CCCI (Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry), indeed, has a significant role in how this city has grown,” he said.
Almendras assured that the Cabinet gives importance to the private sector when crafting its policies.
While the Philippines has relied on strong consumption to fuel its economy, he said the administration has identified the agriculture and tourism sectors as key sustainable growth engines for the country. Though he believes the country will continue to grow, he noted that sustaining it is a challenge and that it needs to be done in the next two to three years.
“I think the question is no longer whether the Philippine economy can grow but whether it can sustain that growth,” he told reporters after the keynote address.
He noted that by 2016, majority of the country’s population will be the younger and productive age. He explained that they want to take advantage of this demographic by picking industries that can capture this growth.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Billionaire Salim’s ventures eye regional utility growth–MVP

PHILIPPINE ventures of billionaire Anthoni Salim’s First Pacific Co. plan telecommunications, power and water investments in Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand to tap rising demand, Chief Executive Officer Manuel Pangilinan said.
“Myanmar has just opened its economy, Vietnam needs more power, and Thailand to a degree needs to build more power plants,” Pangilinan, 66, said in a March 6 interview at the headquarters of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), one of his several offices in the Philippines. “It’s similar in terms of water, tollways and others.”
Meralco and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), two of the biggest companies in First Pacific’s portfolio, operate in markets they lead and where growth may slow. The two companies generated almost P60 billion or $1.5 billion in free cash last year and have achieved a level of expertise they can export to neighbors, Pangilinan said.
“The economic axis has shifted to Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations],” said Roberto Juanchito Dispo, president at Manila-based First Metro Investment Corp., citing the consumer base of Asean and increased trade within the region. “This business move by First Pacific is strategic and opportunistic.”
PLDT rose 1.6 percent as of 2:18 p.m. on Friday in Philippine trading, while Meralco advanced 0.6 percent. The Philippine benchmark stock index increased 1.7 percent, set for a record close. First Pacific rose as much as 2.4 percent in Hong Kong trading.

Southeast Asia
SOUTHEAST Asia’s economies are outpacing bigger nations in the Asia-Pacific region, with the exception of China, as policy-makers take steps to bolster demand amid sluggish global expansion.
The Philippines’s $225-billion eco-nomy expanded 6.6 percent last year, higher than economists estimated, as government spending and consumption rose. Myanmar’s growth outlook has improved substantially amid political reforms, which could lead to a large influx of foreign investment, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in November.
PLDT, the Philippines’s biggest telecommunications company, is in talks with several global competitors to make a joint bid for two Myanmar phone licenses, said Pangilinan, who is the carrier’s chairman.
Myanmar, where only 9 percent of the 64 million population has a mobile phone, seeks to boost coverage to as much as 80 percent by 2016. The license auction will be “hotly contested,” Pangilinan said.

Capacity additions
MERALCO plans to accelerate investments in the next three to five years and may boost capacity overseas to 1,500 megawatts, Pangilinan said. The nation’s largest power retailer, together with First Pacific, bought a 70-percent stake in a Singapore power venture of India’s GMR Group.
Meralco, which plans to build as much as 3,000 MW of generation capacity in the Philippines’s Luzon island, may boost dividend payout after a three-to-five-year “investment hump,” Pangilinan, chairman of the power company, said.
Profit guidance for Meralco will be released along with the first-quarter numbers and once the company has a better sense of the direction in economic growth he said. The power company’s profit rose 29 percent in 2012 to P17 billion, boosted by a 7-percent increase in sales to homes, factories and offices.
Pangilinan is also chairman of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., Philex Mining Corp. and Maynilad Water Services Inc.
Metro Pacific, which invests in industries, including toll roads and hospitals, has a “war chest” of P25 billion to fund its expansion, which includes bidding for an airport in the central Philippine province of Cebu, President Jose Lim told reporters in Manila on Friday.

Moody’s misses on Southeast Asia debt as S&P errs

THE bond market is telling Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) that they’ve got it wrong in rating sovereign debt in Southeast Asia.
The cost of protecting notes sold by Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines against default averages 96 basis points, CMA data show, compared with 262 for Italy and Spain. Debt stood at 51 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the Philippines and 25 percent in Indonesia, both rated junk by S&P, compared with 126 percent in Italy, ranked three levels higher.
“The international agencies are wrong in their ratings of some of the Asean sovereigns,” Lee Kok Kwan, deputy chief executive officer of CIMB Group Holdings Bhd., Malaysia’s top bond arranger, said in a March 5 interview in Kuala Lumpur. “Market prices for the last three years have been so completely divorced from ratings.”
The credit-default swap market is anticipating upgrades for some of the largest economies among the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which the International Monetary Fund forecasts will expand 5.5 percent in 2013 compared with 0.2 percent shrinkage in the euro area. Ratings companies are losing their following among investors. Almost half the time, government bond yields fall when an action suggests they should climb, or they increase even as a change signals a decline, according to 38 years of data compiled by Bloomberg.

Reserves, savings
INTEREST rates moved in the opposite direction 47 percent of the time for Moody’s and for S&P, according to data compiled by Bloomberg on 314 upgrades, downgrades and outlook changes. The data measured yields after a month relative to US Treasury debt, the global benchmark.
Asean leaders responded to a collapse in their currencies 15 years ago by bolstering their foreign reserves and reining in excessive spending. International reserves in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand average $137 billion and their gross savings were at least 31 percent of 2011 GDP, compared with $33 billion and about 20 percent across France, Italy and Spain, according to official and World Bank data.
President Aquino said in January the nation “is on the cusp” of winning an investment grade, with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. saying on January 25 the upgrade may be achieved in the first half of 2013. S&P raised the outlook on the country’s rating to positive in December, saying a revision is possible this year as public finances and governance improve.

Philippines, Spain
INSURING Philippine debt against default has been cheaper than for Spain since April 2010, according to data provider CMA, which is owned by McGraw-Hill Cos. It costs 95 basis points to protect Philippine notes, compared with 259 for Spain. The swaps pay the buyer face value in exchange for the underlying securities or the cash equivalent should a borrower fail to adhere to its debt agreements. Contracts for the Southeast Asian nation dropped 11 basis points this year.
Since the end of September 2010, Moody’s has lowered Spain’s ratings by nine steps from its top “Aaa” rank to “Baa3,” the lowest investment grade. The Philippines was upgraded two notches in the same period to the highest junk level of “Ba1,” while Indonesia was raised two times and currently matches Spain.
S&P said in April it refrained from joining Fitch Ratings and Moody’s in awarding Indonesia investment-grade status as the country’s push to lure investment is at risk from “policy slippages” such as the failure to cut fuel subsidies.

‘Good governance’
THE director general of Indonesia’s debt management office, Robert Pakpahan, said last month the government hopes S&P will change its mind. Southeast Asia’s largest economy is “maintaining stable and sustainable economic growth, and good governance,” he said in a February 6 interview in Jakarta.
The cost of insuring Thailand’s sovereign debt using five-year credit-default swaps is 182 basis points lower than Italy’s, yet S&P rates both nations “BBB+,” the third-lowest investment grade. The contract for Malaysia, which is assessed five levels below “Aa1”-rated France by Moody’s, matches that of the European nation.
“We don’t dismiss off hand the CDS, but they have limited use for sovereign analysis” because swings in the contracts can be volatile, Thomas Byrne, a senior vice president at Moody’s in Singapore, said in a March 6 telephone interview. “We’re trying to have a rating that has stability over the outlook, which is one or two years, or sometimes longer.”

Moody’s, S&P
WHILE the Philippines has been upgraded since the 2008 global financial crisis, it is rated junk because a large portion of the nation’s budget goes toward servicing its debt, Byrne said.
Ratings and market indicators often diverge because they could be driven by different factors in the short term, Lisa Coory, S&P’s head of communications for Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong, said in an e-mail. Bond spreads and credit-default swaps reflect the market sentiment, as well as the liquidity of a security, and not just its credit quality, Coory said.
Global funds added $6.5 billion to holdings of Thailand’s government debt this year and 13.5 trillion rupiah, or $1.4 billion, in Indonesia, official data show. Foreigners poured a net $1.2 billion into Malaysia’s bonds in January.
The inflows are supporting regional currencies. Spot returns on the Malaysian ringgit, the Singapore dollar and the Philippine peso are forecast to rank in the top 10 this year among 25 emerging-market exchange rates tracked by Bloomberg. The Thai baht has appreciated 2.8 percent and the peso 0.7 percent this year, the biggest gainers in Asia.

‘Very popular’
WESTERN Asset Management Co. has the Philippines as the “single-largest overweight” position in its Asian Opportunities Fund on optimism it will exit junk status as early as in one year, Chia-Liang Lian, the Singapore-based head of investment management for Asia excluding Japan, said at a February 6 media briefing. An overweight position means he holds more than the benchmark index he follows. The fixed-income unit of the Baltimore-based Legg Mason Inc. manages $462 billion globally.
“Asean sovereign credits today are very popular despite their international credit ratings, whether in terms of amount or price,” CIMB’s Lee said. “However, some funds that would like to buy the bonds can’t because their mandate limits them to only A-rated paper.”
Pacific Investment Management Co.’s $288-billion Total Return Fund managed by Bill Gross is the world’s biggest bond fund and limits its Asia holdings to Japan and South Korea, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The two north Asian nations are rated “Aa3” by Moody’s, the fourth-highest investment grade.

Japan, Korea
JAPAN’S government debt stands at 219 percent of GDP, the largest among the developed nations. Asia’s second-biggest economy has a budget deficit of 7.9 percent of GDP, compared with 0.6 percent for Indonesia, 1.8 percent for the Philippines and 1.2 percent for Thailand. South Korea enjoys a budget surplus and its public debt amounts to 33.7 percent of GDP.
Indonesia’s dollar-denominated bonds due January 2016 yield 2.1 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, compared with 3 percent for similar-maturity notes of Italy.
“What the ratings agencies publish versus what’s actually been traded in the market is quite evident,” Leslie Foo, managing director for global markets at Malayan Banking Bhd., said in a March 6 interview. “Even sovereign wealth funds are actually beginning to invest in emerging markets or Asean credits because of the value and given the countries’ balance sheets versus where the yield is currently.”