Strong And Steady: Property companies navigate COVID-19, post-election challenges

They are the captains of the ship, the maestro leading the orchestra, the fathers of the different property giants. They are chairmen, presidents, COOs and CEOs and they spearheaded their respective companies through the challenging two years of the pandemic and the lockdowns. Now, as the country transitions to a post-election Philippines, they continue to lead their companies with inspiring strength and skills.

New challenges have emerged — from scorching inflation here and abroad, skyrocketing oil prices and fears of a recession.  But with them at the helm, the different property companies in the country are ready to face the new headwinds, stronger than before.

In celebration of this year’s Father’s Day, we pay tribute to the different property leaders who continue to brave the changing tides.

Villar Group
Manuel Villar, Jr., chairman, Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc.

Tycoon Manuel Villar Jr. said that while the Villar Group was affected by prevailing circumstances such as the worldwide pandemic, they were able to adapt and capitalize on opportunities presented.

In fact, the group’s real estate investment trust VistaREIT Inc. (VREIT),  successfully made its debut in the stock market on Wednesday.

“We are truly excited to bring VREIT to the public. What we offer is an elevated mall experience coming from our high quality and world-class tenants. We believe that Filipinos deserve an experience that is at par with the best of the world and this initial public offering helps us to do just that,” Villar said.

Ayala Land Inc.
Bernard Vincent Dy, president and CEO

At the height of the pandemic, Ayala Land Inc, under the leadership of Bernard Vincent Dy, president and CEO, rolled out its five-point plan and it proved effective — taking care of customers and communities; reinvention; taking care of employees; assisting stakeholders and ensuring financial sustainability.

Thus, the company successfully generated a net income of P3.2 billion in the first quarter of 2022, up 14 percent year-on-year, supported by continuing cost-efficiency measures amidst the pandemic.

ALI also launched seven projects with a total value of P17 billion in the first quarter.

“The greater mobility in the first quarter resulted in an immediate positive impact on our overall business. Notable was the turnaround and higher customer patronage of our malls, hotels, and resorts,” said Dy.

Sm Development Corp.
Jose Mari Banzon, president

SM Development Corp., guided by the vision of its chairman, Henry Sy Jr. which is to democratize homeownership in the Philippines and by the leadership of Jose Mari Banzon as president and CEO, emerged as one of the most resilient property players in the country.

To navigate the difficult environment, the property developer, under Banzon’s leadership, has stepped up its digital initiatives to engage with its customers better and even introduced new products to the market including residential and office spaces in one building, more green developments and amenities that promote health and well-being.

Thus, SMDC was able to maintain its growth momentum while prioritizing the health and safety of all our stakeholders.

Robinsons Land Corp.
Frederick Go, president and CEO

The listed property giant of the Gokongwei Group was able to navigate through the pandemic because of its strong fundamentals and solid balance sheet.

RLC president and CEO Frederick Go said these factors drove the company closer to its pre-pandemic performance.

“The encouraging signs of recovery across our businesses solidify our optimism in RLC’s future growth prospects. Our strong fundamentals and solid balance sheet will boost recovery momentum, driving us closer to pre-pandemic performance. We will push to capitalize on opportunities to accelerate growth and deliver long-term sustainable value,” Go said.

Under Go’s leadership, the company accelerated its operating income from domestic operations by 12 percent to P2.29 billion in the first quarter.

Federal Land
Alfred Ty, chairman

The challenging times did not deter the Ty Group’s Federal Land Inc., chaired by Alfred Ty, from forging a strategic partnership with Japanese real estate giant Nomura Real Estate Development Co. Ltd. (Nomura) to form a new company, Federal Land NRE Global Inc. (FNG).

The company is expected to bring to the Philippines milestone developments that mix Japanese inspiration with Filipino sensibility.

FNG plans to develop projects in Metro Manila, Cavite, and Cebu. This will include an initial pipeline of residential and commercial properties, as well as office spaces.

“Our late founder, Dr. George S.K. Ty’s love for architecture has molded the company to expand its portfolio into delivering large-scale and quality developments. We are very delighted to bring our partnership with Nomura Real Estate, Japan’s top five developers, to greater heights,” chairman Alfred Ty said of the partnership.

During the first quarter, Federal Land posted total revenues of P2.8 billion, representing a 17 percent increase from P2.4 billion in the same period last year. 

Rockwell Land
Nestor Padilla, president and CEO

Rockwell Land Inc., under the leadership of Nestor Padilla as its president and CEO, not only survived but thrived during the difficult times.

Padillla said challenges found their way in but they didn’t allow themselves to be overwhelmed.  The biggest lesson was to keep that sense of duty in mind.

“We put our trust in our people and stuck to our vision of creating remarkable communities, despite facing unprecedented challenges. This, in turn, has strengthened our clients’ faith in our brand after seeing how well we handled the crisis,” Padilla said.

The company optimized online selling portals and services to function intuitively and maximized digital walkthroughs

In all, Padilla said they chose not to let uncertainties prevail over Rockwell’s many growth plans for its present and future communities.

Kevin Tan, chief strategy officer

Andrew Tan-led Megaworld repositioned the business during the pandemic to focus on segments and areas with strong demand. Cavite, Pampanga, Bacolod and Iloilo became new growth areas for the group as well as Boracay Newcoast, Twin Lakes in Batangas and Eastland Heights in Rizal.

As with other companies, Megaworld migrated its operations to digital.

Kevin Tan, Megaworld’s chief strategy officer said at one point all the company’s customer service and interactions were done 100 percent online.

Moving forward, the focus now is to go back to Megaworld’s pre-pandemic performance.

“We are now focused on returning to our pre-pandemic performance and to grow beyond that. In fact, we are now looking at opportunities to further expand our geographical footprint in the country this year with the launch of several new townships,” Tan said.

In the first quarter, the company reported a 41 percent growth in its net income to P3.5-billion from P2.5-billion during the same period last year as the business environment continued to improve.

Victor Consunji Development Corp.
Victor Consunji, founder and CEO

Victor Consunji Development Corp. ‘s (VCDC) value proposition is that it offers solutions for homebuyers who want to live in bigger spaces.

Its founder and CEO, Victor Consunji , a real estate scion, believes that the best solution for home buyers is to get prime homes that fit their lifestyles.  These are seen in VCDC’s villas which have big spaces, but are still fully customizable, in which the buyers have full control.

Thus, a VCDC home is able to adapt to its homeowner’s evolving lifestyle.

During the pandemic, Consunji realized that the company is not in the business of building houses or building developments but in the business of life itself.

“We are actually in the business of building lives. The houses are just by-products. The actual business is life so with the brand, you are not just investing in a house, you are actually investing in your future. You are not building a structure but you are building a family and this is what the brand is about,” Consunji said earlier.

VCDC’s latest project is Vie at Southern Plains in Calamba, Laguna.

Cebu Landmasters
Jose Soberano III, chairman, president and CEO

The leading property developer in Visayas and Mindanao led by Soberano said the company introduced digital innovations during the pandemic, allowing it to survive and thrive during the difficult times.

“Our track record for delivering projects on time and our responsiveness to customer needs, thanks to digital innovations, allowed us to keep them satisfied and ready to endorse us to others,” Soberano said during the company’s recent annual stockholders meeting.

The company reported first quarter revenue growth of 53 percent to P3.56 billion from P2.3 billion a year ago.