Monday, December 22, 2008

Megaworld expects P1.4B from new Greenbelt project

Megaworld Corporation, the country’s #1 residential condominium buildings developer, is still quite bullish for the real estate industry, as it expects P1.4 billion in sales revenues from its fifth Greenbelt-area project.

Dubbed Greenbelt Madison, the 31-story building will rise along Salcedo St. in Legaspi Village, Makati City. The location puts it a block away from Ayala Avenue, the country’s main financial artery.

Greenbelt Madison will have 276 executive studio and 2-bedroom units. Groundbreaking is slated for next year, with turnover scheduled towards the late part of 2012.

Megaworld is slated to deliver all units fully furnished upon turnover, its fourth such offering after Greenbelt Chancellor, Greenbelt Excelsior and One Central.
“Despite the ongoing financial crisis abroad, we are quite confident with Greenbelt Madison because of its prime location near Ayala Avenue and Makati Medical Center. We expect it to sell out in the next few months, just like its highly successful predecessor projects,” Megaworld VP for Marketing and project head Clifford Legaspi disclosed.

The project is Megaworld’s fifth offering within this prime Makati area. Already finished are Greenbelt Parkplace and Greenbelt Radissons. Now under construction are Greenbelt Chancellor and Greenbelt Excelsior.

Among the amenities planned for Greenbelt Madison are a 15-meter lap pool, gym, wading pool and a grand lobby. Parking will be allocated for residents across two basement levels and five podium floors.

Given the project’s location within the Makati business district, Megaworld is targeting “doctors, executives, entrepreneurs and investors” for Greenbelt Madison, according to Legaspi.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

PayPal Integration Made Easier for Philippine Online Merchants

Manila, Philippines, December 15, 2008 --( Mozcom PayEasy Online Payment System ("PayEasy") has signed up as a Channel Partner of PayPal, the world’s leading online payment provider. With this development, local online merchants can now instantly add PayPal as a payment option to their shopping carts or online payment modules, when they open a PayEasy merchant account. There is no need to learn new programming interfaces as the PayPal Express Checkout will integrate transparently with PayEasy giving online businesses a one-stop-shop payment solution that ranges from local ATM and mobile phone payments, to the major credit cards, and now, PayPal.

As one of the preferred payment methods on the Web in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, PayPal ( offers secure payments in 190 markets by providing an extra level of security and privacy as its users do not have to disclose credit card information directly to online merchants when paying for items. Additionally, PayPal's proprietary fraud detection models, 24/7 fraud monitoring, and protection for buyers against unauthorized transactions, gives shoppers peace of mind and more confidence to buy online.

"We are eager to work with PayPal in developing the local e-commerce market, and we are honored to be their first operational, locally-based Channel Partner in the Philippines," said Dick Chiang, Mozcom COO/CTO. "A strong global brand like PayPal can be a boon to local merchants as it gives a certain level of confidence and trust to foreigners who may be initially wary at buying from unknown Philippine websites."

"With e-commerce growing quickly in Asia, PayPal is committed to supporting the phenomenal rise of online payments in the Philippines, as well as around the globe," said Gene Wong, Head of PayPal Asia Merchant Services. "Working with PayEasy is a natural fit with PayPal’s global, all-in-one payment solution and we look forward to working with them to help enable more e-commerce growth in the Philippines and beyond.

About Mozcom

Mozcom PayEasy is the most comprehensive online payment system in the country today supporting all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, JCB, Diners Club), BancNet and MegaLink ATM cards, PayPal, China UnionPay, Globe G-Cash, Smart Money, Western Union, over-the-counter bank deposits, and direct account debit with major banks in China, Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan. For more information, visit or call +63(2)848-2606 .

About PayPal

PayPal is the safer, easier way to pay and get paid online. The service allows users to pay without sharing financial information and gives consumers the flexibility to pay, using their account balances, bank accounts, or credit/debit cards. With 65 million active accounts in 190 markets and 19 currencies around the world, PayPal enables global ecommerce. PayPal is an eBay company. More information about the company can be found at

PayPal is headquartered in San Jose, California. Its European headquarters are in Luxembourg and its international headquarters (PayPal Private Limited) are located in Singapore.

Consumer advisory - PayPal Pte. Ltd., the holder of PayPal's stored value facility, does not require the approval of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Users are advised to read the terms and conditions available at carefully before use.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

iRemit Reports 47% Growth in Jan to October

iRemit Forges New Partnership with the Philippine Retirement Authority

I-Remit, Inc (iRemit) reported that its remittance volume for the first ten months of this year grew by 47 percent to $902 million compared with the same period last year.

iRemit's growth continues to soar higher than the industry. In its recent report, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas registered cumulative remittances of US13.7 billion for the first ten months of the year, 15.5 percent higher than the level recorded during the same period a year ago. Year-on-year, October remittances rose modestly by 3.3 percent.

Commenting on the results, Harris Jacildo, president and chief operating office said, "We anticipated the modest growth of the industry because of the reported global economic downturn. This affected our short-term results but put us in a good position to expand market share and enhance the customers' experience in the foregin markets. We shifted gears by remodelling the marketing strategies while at the same time aggressively expanding our international tie-ups. We absorbed many cost increases to keep our exchange rate competitive. We believe this strategy is important to maintain customer loyalty and to help our customers during these uncertain economic times."

As part of its expansion programs, iRemit partnered with the Philippine Retirement Authority(PRA). Both institutions forged a partnership with regard to information dissemination and promotion of PRA's Retirement programs including the tax-free private pension scheme under the Personal Equity Retirement Account or PERA law.

"This new partnership with the Philippine Retirement Authority underscores the strong commitment of iRemit to develop tangible strategies that address the needs of the overseas Filipinos in a challenging economic landscape," said Bansan Choa, chairman and chief executive officer of iRemit.
Choa added that iRemit has manifested its willingness to disseminate information and to assist in promoting those programs in the countries where it is present.

The appointment of iRemit as one of the agents of PRA in the information dissemination, promotion of programs and collection is another milestine for the company. "We're extensively working on several institutional partnerships with different companies that share our ideals and goals in helping Filipinos abroad especially during these volatile times," said Jacildo. He also stressed that this initiative will boost iRemit's performance and will serve as an instrument in acchieving the US 1 billion mark goal for 2008.

This month, iRemit recently opened its new branch in Perth, Western Australia. The company is currently present in 25 countries across the continents with over 600 international tie-ups and 4,000 payout centers nationwide.

Source: iRemit, Inc press release.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Qtel Sees “Huge Potential” for Expansion and Growth within

14 December 2008

Qtel Sees “Huge Potential” for Expansion and Growth within the Philippines

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines, Meets with Qtel Chairman to Discuss Social and Economic Benefits of AdvancedCommunications

Doha, Qatar

Senior executives from Qatar Telecom QSC (“Qtel”) (Ticker: QTEL.QA), today met with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines, to review potential areas of cooperation for the extension of access to broadband internet technology in the Philippines.

The meeting was organized as part of the president’s working visit to Qatar to strengthen economic ties between the two countries. His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani, Chairman of Qtel, who led the Qtel delegation, said: “We were extremely grateful for the opportunity to meet with President Macapagal-Arroyo. Qtel has looked to increase its profile within the Republic of the Philippines and the environment appears increasingly open to external investment and the provision of communication services.”

“We see huge opportunities for growth and partnership within the Philippines and this meeting provided an important opportunity for Qtel to communicate its ambitions and its obligations to the people of the Republic,” he added. Following the meeting, Qtel also signed a Telecommunications Memorandum of Understanding with the San Miguel Corporation (SMC), one of the Philippines' leading business conglomerates, as part of the Group’s ongoing plans for expansion and consolidation within Southeast Asia.

The strategic agreement will see the two companies begin exploration of joint opportunities in the wireless broadband, mobile and mobile broadband sectors in the Philippines.

Qtel is already actively engaged in extending its wi-tribe brand, which supports the provision of broadband wireless services for emerging markets. wi-tribe has already realized significant success in providing Wi-MAX services in Jordan, and is in the process of rolling-out new offerings for Pakistan.

Among the issues discussed during the meeting was Qtel’s strong commitment to maximizing the positive social impact of Wi-MAX in every market it operates in.

In particular, executives outlined a number of positive educational programs already made possible across Qtel Group’s territories through the provision of Wi-MAX technology to schools and universities.

This press release has been issued by Qtel GROUP COMMUNICATIONS-Department. For further information please contact:
Tel: +974 440 0838 / +974 440 0201
Fax: +974 411 3606

About Qtel

Qatar Telecom (Qtel) is the telecommunications service provider licensed by the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR) to provide both fixed and mobile telecommunications services in the state of Qatar. We have a presence in 16 countries and we are committed to expansion both in the MENA region and South East Asia. Our vision is to be among the top 20 telecommunications companies in the world by 2020.

About San Miguel Corporation (SMC)

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is Southeast Asia's largest publicly listed food, beverage and packaging company with over 15,000 employees in over 100 major facilities throughout the Asia-Pacific.

Monday, December 15, 2008

SM Retail Group Expands to 98 stores in 2008

(15 December 2008. Pasay City, Philippines.) Philippine conglomerate SM Investments Corporation (SM) reported that with the opening of a new SM Supermarket branch in Cubao, Quezon City yesterday, 14 December 2008, its retail network has expanded by 12.6% to a total of 98 stores, composed of 33 SM department stores, 24 SM supermarkets, 13 SaveMore branches, 13 SM hypermarkets, and 15 Makro outlets.

For full-year 2008, SM opened 11 new stores consisting of two SM department stores, two SM supermarkets, two SM hypermarkets, and five SaveMore branches. SaveMore branches are typically stand-alone stores located outside SM shopping malls mainly targeting high-density residential areas. Late last year, SM also increased its stake to own controlling interest in wholesaler Pilipinas Makro, Inc. which has 15 Makro stores in Metro Manila.

The new SM stores in 2008 increased the selling space of department stores by 5% to 518,236 square meters (sqm) and of the food retail group by 42% to 287,516 sqm. SM president Mr. Harley Sy said, “SM retail will continue to increase its presence nationwide. This reiterates SM’s sustained commitment to the Philippine economy and its potential to deliver long-term growth and expansion amid short-term challenges posed by the global crisis.”

Source: SM Investments Press Release

San Miguel and Qatar Telecom sign MOU

Senior executives from San Miguel Corporation(SMC) and Qatar Telecom QSC(QTEL) signed a memorandum of understanding to partner today in wireless broadband and mobile communications projects in the Philippines.

Qtel acquired in May 2008, Liberty Telecoms Holdings, Inc, a holding company whose subsidiaries provide wireless voice and data telecommunications services.
The strategic agreement will see the two companies begin exploration in the wireless broadband, mobile and mobile broadband sectors in the Philippines and to review potential areas of cooperation for the extension of access to broadband internet technology in the Philippines.

The MOU was signed by SMC President and Chief Operating Office Ramon S. Ang and Qtel Deputy Chairman Sheikh Mohammed Bin Suhaim Al-Thani, in Doha Qatar on the occasion of the official visit of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who led a trade mission to the Gulf State.

Witnessing the signing were President Arroyo and Qtel Chairman Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani.

The President welcomed Qtel's proposed partnership with SMC as she called for more investments in technology and other related industries, highlighting telecommunications as a key area ripe for investment.

Said His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani, "We see huge opportunities for growth and partnership within the Philippines and this meeting provided an important opportunity for Qtel to communicate its ambitions and its obligations to the people of the Philippines.

For inquiries, please call
Mary Jane Llanes/Jayson Brizuela / Jon Hernandez
632-3162, 632-3542, 632-3504

Source: San Miguel disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange

Saturday, December 13, 2008

SM Pursues Development of World Class Entertainment Hub

(12 December 2008. Pasay City, Philippines.) SM Investments Corporation (“SM”) reported today that its property subsidiary SM Land, Inc. will pursue the transformation of the 60-hectare Mall of Asia Complex into a world-class business and entertainment hub fronting the famous Manila Bay. The plan runs in line with the group’s thrust into tourism development as SM develops other projects such as Hamilo in Batangas and a chain of high-end and boutique hotels, and convention centers throughout the country.

SM Vice Chairman Henry Sy, Jr. said, “We believe in the country’s strong potential in tourism. As such, SM will be at the forefront in providing much-needed infrastructure and facilities for more tourists to enjoy the country’s scenic destinations, while experiencing the warmth of Philippine hospitality.”

The entertainment hub will have on its plate a number of hotels fronting the Manila Bay to be operated by leading international hotel chains like the Radisson and the luxury Regent brand. It will also include high-end retail establishments, a mega structure that will be operated by an international casino operator, and a theater for the performing arts. There will also be a residential component and a ferry terminal that will directly link the Mall of Asia Complex with SM’s Hamilo project. The recent provisional license granted by PAGCOR marks the start of the
development of the entertainment hub which will be executed over the medium term.

Source: SM Investments Press Release

Thursday, December 11, 2008

PNB Sells Equity Stake in Insurance Affiliate for P700 Million

The Philippine National Bank (PNB) has completed its divestment from the Beneficial-PNB Life Insurance Company, Inc. (BenLife) with the signing of a Deed of Absolute Sale covering its 40% equity interest in said company. PNB's shareholdings were acquired by the firm's majority owners, namely FMF Development Corporation and Merje Trading, Inc. The buyers turned over to PNB P350 Million on November 28, 2008 representing the full payment of the purchase price totaling P700 Million.

PNB's divestment in BenLife is in line with its thrust to consolidate its bancassurance business with PNB Life Insurance, Inc (formerly New York Life Insurance, Inc.) Aside from life insurance, the Bank is also engaged in non-life insurance through its wholly owned subsidiary, PNB General Insurers Co., Inc. One of the biggest universal banks, PNB offers ancillary financial services such as insurance, investment banking, leasing and financing, and stock brokerage, among others, through its various subsidiaries and affiliates.

** PNB Press Release

“The Annex” Makes SM City North Edsa the Largest Mall in the Philippines

(11 December 2008. Pasay City, Philippines.) SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SM Prime) announces the soft opening of The Annex at SM North Edsa on Friday, 12 December 2008. The new annex will add 90,000 square meters (sqm) of gross floor area (GFA) to the main mall, which is located at the corner of EDSA and North Avenue in Quezon City. With The Annex, SM City North Edsa’s GFA expands to 425,000 sqm, making it the country’s largest shopping mall, surpassing the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City which has a GFA of 407,000 sqm.

In terms of global ranking, SM City North Edsa now becomes the third largest shopping complex, but still joined by SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall, and SM City Cebu which rank fourth, seventh, and eleventh, respectively. All these malls have occupancy rates of over 95%.

SM Prime President Mr. Hans Sy said, “Our expansion of SM North EDSA is reminiscent of its ambitious beginnings. Back in 1985, it was the largest and the only mall of its kind with a GFA of 120,000 sqm. It was launched at a very challenging period in the country’s political history. This year, amidst serious global challenges, we open The Annex at the SM North EDSA. This speaks of how we view the longer-term prospects of the country. Add to this is our desire and ability to provide the needs of our millions of customers who grow in sophistication, while constantly looking for value products and services.”

The Annex at SM North Edsa consists of six floors and a basement area, 70% of which has already been awarded to various tenants. Its major tenants include Savemore Supermarket, Ace Hardware and an SM Cyberzone. Other mall tenants include fashion retailer Charles & Keith; watch and jewelry shop Chronos; infant store Baby & Company; and electronic shops Power Mac Center, Sony VAIO, HTC, and Belkin, among many others. SM North Edsa is the only mall of SM Prime where the three food retail formats, Savemore Supermarket in The Annex, SM Supermarket in the Main Building and the SM Hypermarket in The Block, are all located in one complex.

It is estimated that the opening of The Annex at SM North Edsa will provide employment to close to 3,000 people which includes direct and indirect employees.

In 2009, SM North EDSA also looks forward to opening the Skygarden, which offers another exciting and environmental element to the Mall complex. Earlier, SM Prime launched SM City Marikina, the SM Megamall Bridgeway and SM City Rosales. The Company is also set to open SM City Baliwag in December 12.

**SM Prime Holdings Press Release

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

SM Prime Opens SM City Baliwag

(10 December 2008. Pasay City, Philippines.) SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SM Prime) will open its 33rd mall in the country on Friday, 12 December 2008 in Baliwag, Bulacan. SM City Baliwag occupies 93,000 square meters (sqm) of land and has a gross floor area (GFA) of 61,554 sqm. Its total leasable area is 42,171 sqm with two of its anchor tenants, SM Department Store and SM Hypermarket occupying 18,985 sqm and 9,507 sqm of floor space, respectively. SM City Baliwag is located approximately 40 kilometers from the EDSA - Balintawak interchange of the North Luzon Expressway.

As in all other SM Prime malls, SM Baliwag offers a complete line of stores and services for shopping, dining, entertainment, health, and wellness. Among the facilities included are an 824-sqm food court, four cinemas with a combined seating capacity of 1,241, and parking for over 500 vehicles. Other mall tenants include Jollibee, KFC, Gerry’s Grill, SM Appliance, Watsons, National Bookstore, Ace Hardware, and Worlds of Fun, among others.

SM Prime President Mr. Hans Sy said, “We welcome SM City Baliwag as the 33rd member of our family of SM Supermalls. Baliwag is one of the major transport hubs in the province of Bulacan, a take off point to and from Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, and Metro Manila. It has a festive and traditional setting, which include Holy Week processions that attract huge crowds. These attributes make Baliwag an ideal location for an SM mall.”

Baliwag is a first class, urban municipality in the province of Bulacan. It is also known for its native delicacies, furniture, garments, embroidery, and a thriving pyrotechnics industry. SM City Baliwag is the last mall to be opened in 2008.

It is estimated that the opening of SM City Baliwag will provide employment to close to 1,500 people which includes direct and indirect employees.

Earlier, SM Prime launched SM City Marikina, the SM Megamall Bridgeway and SM City Rosales in Pangasinan. The Annex at SM City North Edsa is also set to open in December 12. All these increase the total gross floor area of SM malls by 9% to 4.3 million sqm.

* Press release by SM Prime Holdings, Inc.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Metropass to Sell ScratchIT Tickets

Rhederick B. Inciong, CFO and Vice President of Pacific Online Systems Corporation, in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange said:

'...Pacific Online Systems Corporation ( Pacific Online ) has entered into a distribution agreement for its ScratchIT instant tickets with Metropass Systems Incorporated (Metropass).

Metropass owns and operates 22 retail store outlets in all 13 Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) stations. MRT3 systems' passenger capacity is 485,000 daily.

Pacific Online just recently rolled out its new PCSO ScratchIT tickets - "Red Hot 7's", "Mega Money", "Double Dollars" and "Gold Rush" - to complement its "Fast Cash" and "Diamond Dash" games. '


San Miguel to Negotiate Purchase of 50.1% Stake in Petron

Ferdinand Constantino, San Miguel Corporation's Corporate Information Officer, in a disclosure dated December 8, 2008, to the Philippine Stock Exchange stated that the San Miguel Board of Directors authorized the company to enter into an option agreement with Ashmore Group for the purchase of up to 50.1% of Ashmore's interest in Petron Corporation.


Business Expectations Survey 4Q 2008

The Business Expectations Survey reported:

Business confidence in Q4 2008 improved slightly relative to the previous quarter, although the overall confidence index (CI) remained negative. The CI at -6.8 percent, went up by 6.1 percentage points quarter-on-quarter. This moderate uptick may be due to the recent easing of world oil prices as well as expectations of a seasonal pick-up in demand and higher OFW remittances during the year-end holidays. The bearish outlook on the macroeconomy mirrored the weak global sentiment due to the global economic slowdown and the financial turmoil.


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