Josephine Gotianun-Yap makes the REIT bet for Filinvest

To be at the helm of a conglomerate and to ensure its survival in this difficult time of a global health pandemic is certainly no easy feat but second-generation tycoon Lourdes Josephine “JGY” Gotianun-Yap, 65, president and CEO of Filinvest Development Corp. and the only daughter of Filinvest founder, the late Andrew Gotianun Sr., is not only enabling the company to survive but to thrive as well.

Now, who was it who said that if you want something done, you should choose a woman to do it?

JGY, of course, has the invaluable help and support of her brothers Andrew Jr. (who recently died), Jonathan, and Michael—who hold key positions in the conglomerate—and third-generation Gotianuns in running one of the country’s biggest and most successful businesses.

But credit certainly goes to JGY for effectively leading the Filinvest Group through the pandemic with fortitude and faith. 

Indeed, the group is not only surviving but is in fact embarking on a new chapter of growth—the real estate investment trust or REIT path, a move that would not only stir it to greater heights but also provide opportunities for investors to create more wealth.

Filinvest REIT Corp. (FILREIT), formerly Cyberzone, chaired by Gotianun-Yap, will list on August 12 and will become the third REIT company to list on the Philippine Stock Exchange after Ayala Corp.’s AREIT and Double Dragon’s DDMP REIT.

At a price of P7 per share, FILREIT will offer 1.6 billion common shares and an over-allotment option of up to 163.4 million common shares to raise up to P12.6 billion.

FILREIT’s property portfolio consists of 17 Grade A office buildings on prime property, totaling over 300,000 square meters of gross leasable area.

The 16 buildings are located in Northgate Cyberzone within Filinvest City in Alabang, while one is in the gateway of Cebu IT Park in Lahug, Cebu City.

Braving the market

But some may wonder why FILREIT decided to brave the market now.

The question perhaps is “why not?”

As Baron Rothschild, the 18th-century British nobleman and member of the Rothschild banking family, said “the time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets.” He should know. Rothschild made a fortune buying in the panic that followed the Battle of Waterloo against Napoleon.

Josephine Gotianun Yap, Filinvest Development Corp. president/CEO

In an interview with Property Report PH, Gotianun-Yap said that indeed, for investors, the best time to enter the market is when the market is not at its peak.

Thus, FILREIT offers a good investment option for those looking to grow their wealth in this difficult time.

“With the low interest rate environment now, people are looking for higher yields. FILREIT is quite an attractive investment with a yield of 6.3 percent for 2021 and 6.6 percent for 2022. REITs will provide an inflation hedge, which will make it even more attractive than typical stocks,” she said.

FILREIT’s dividend yield is significantly higher than prevailing rates of government and corporate bonds, which now range from around three percent to four percent.

JGY is also proud that FILREIT’s portfolio is composed of players in the business process outsourcing sector, an industry that has remained resilient despite COVID-19.

“FILREIT’s portfolio consists of the resilient BPO and e-commerce sectors,” she said.

As of March 2021, 88.4 percent of FILREIT’s occupied GLA is leased to prime, global businesses from the resilient BPO sector, which includes globally renowned tenants in banking and financial services, e-commerce, knowledge and business process outsourcing services.

“This sector will continue to grow amidst global uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to Jones Lang LaSalle in an Office Market Study of Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.

JGY said FILREIT’s tenants are also into different BPO sub-sectors and also serve clients from different economies, mitigating the risks.

In the future, FILREIT will infuse other asset classes in its portfolio. JGY noted, for instance, that prior to the pandemic, retail and hospitality were very strong.

“We are open to opportunistic investment in the different asset classes. We also have retail and hospitality. We want them to become more stable (after the pandemic) before infusing them into the REIT,” she explained.

Green investment

Investing in FILREIT also means investing in green developments.

Filinvest City in Alabang, where the majority of FILREIT’s portfolio is located, is the only central business district in the country awarded with the LEED v4 Gold for Neighborhood Development Plan.

Two of FILREIT’s buildings, Filinvest Axis Tower One and Vector Three, are also LEED Gold certified office buildings.

Northgate Cyberzone is also served by the Filinvest City Eco-loop, the country’s first fully integrated electric-powered public transport system in a private development.

Furthermore, it is served by the country’s largest District Cooling System that reduces carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. A DCS distributes cooling capacity from a central source to multiple buildings for use in space and process cooling.

Going green and prioritizing sustainability have long been part of the Filinvest Group’s DNA.

“We started on our green agenda a long time ago… Many of the other buildings are LEED certified. These are real-life successful examples where you integrate sustainability and operations,” she said.

She noted that even in the earliest developments of Filinvest, sustainability has been a major focus.

“We tend not to optimize the land. We don’t keep our buildings full because we want them to be livable. We’ve always been like that and we feel strongly about that,” JGY said.

Indeed, Filinvest Group brings this trademark to FILREIT as well, and with JGY at the helm, the Gotianun-led business empire is certainly on the REIT path.