Empire East unaffected by Resorts World Manila attack

MANILA, Philippines – Andrew Tan-led Empire East Land Holdings Incorporated said the recent attack on Resorts World Manila has no impact on its operations and expansion plans, as it is pushing through with its projects in Metro Manila and the south to ramp up reservation sales in the next 5 years.

"Well, there is really no privity between Resorts World and our company. That should be the answer. Resorts World Manila is owned and managed by a separately listed company and it is managed very well for many years now," Empire East president Anthony Charlemagne Yu told the company's stockholders in a meeting in Quezon City on Tuesday, June 13.

"We, in Empire East, condole with the families affected. Beyond that, it is more prudent for me not to comment on that issue," Yu said. 

Resorts World Manila is owned and operated by Tan's Travellers International Hotel Group. Travellers, which is the sister company of Empire East, has lost over P7.09 billion in market capitalization since trading on June 1, a day before the deadly attack on Resorts World Manila, which claimed the lives of 37 people.

Prior to the June 2 attack, Resorts World Manila stocks were priced at P3.40 each. But as markets closed on Friday, June 9, stocks closed 10.29% lower at P3.05.

Meanwhile, Empire East is not suffering a blow from Travellers. (READ: FAST FACTS: What you need to know about Resorts World Manila)

Empire East shares were unchanged at P0.69 each last Friday, as compared to June 1's closing. Empire East's market capitalization remains at P10.126 billion.

Yu said Empire East will continue to invest and expand in the Philippines, allocating P25 billion in capital spending budget over the next 5 years to fund its projects in Metro Manila and the south. 

Expansion plans

"We also plan to build more outside Metro Manila. We've been looking at different locations. [The main] problem is pricing, if we think there is absorbing capacity in that area. As of now, we don't have any properties in the Visayas and Mindanao. We are also looking within Luzon," Yu told reporters.

Anthony Yu says Empire East board has decided not to give dividends this year to use money for expansion plans. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/wWvgem0FlD — Chrisee V. Dela Paz (@chriseedelapaz) June 13, 2017

For this year, the company plans to launch 3 new residential towers: Little Baguio Terraces in San Juan City, Pioneer Woodlands in Mandaluyong City, and San Lorenzo Place in Makati City, which are nearly sold out.

Empire East's steady performance carried over into the 1st quarter of 2017, with sales growing to P1.179 million, up 23% from P958 million in the same quarter in 2016. Its net income after tax also increased by 18% to P165 million in the 1st quarter of 2017 from P140 million in the same period a year ago.

"For 2017 figures, we are confident we will be able to sustain the momentum we had last year. Reservation sales for instance in 2017 for the group is seen to go up," Yu said.

In 2016, Empire East projects and Manhattan City's reservation sales were at P14.7 billion. For Empire East alone, reservation sales were at P13 billion in 2016.

"We currently have P2.9 billion worth of properties in our land bank, with an aggregate of 404 hectares," Yu said.

He added that they are still finalizing the master plan for a mixed-use development in the 1.7-hectare Broadway Centrum property in Quezon City as well as a 23-hectare property in Pasig City envisioned for mixed-use development, to be named Empire East City. 

"The master plan is being revised. Whenever we meet, there are many recommendations, so these are the things we are looking at adding. Right now, [the project] cost is up in the air," Yu said.

For Empire East City, Yu said they expect to "freeze the concept and start pre-selling" this year.

The company is confident that Covent Garden and Mango Tree Residences, located in the Sta Mesa area and San Juan City, respectively, will continue to perform well.

"Pre-selling demand stays robust for the remaining residential condominium units of the two projects," Yu said. – Rappler.com