• Ayala Land sets sights on Asean

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    Property giant Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) is now setting its sights on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) for overseas investments, ALI Chief Finance Officer Jaime Ysmael told reporters on Monday.

    “Asean in general,” Ysmael replied, when asked to specify. “So, I guess, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam. But Asean, in particular, is our focus.”

    In April, ALI first announced its keenness on expanding within the fast-growing Asean region, with plans to invest in Indonesia, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

    This came as the property giant marked its first investment foray in the region with the purchase of MCT Bhd, a Malaysian property development firm specializing in mixed-use projects that include retail, office, hotel, and low- to mid-range residences.

    It was ALI’s latest investment abroad, as it raised its holdings in the MCT to about a third in October, through wholly owned subsidiary Regent Wise Investments Ltd., for $92 million.

    Ysmael said while ALI continues to look for more opportunities in the Asean, the company is keen on investing in established companies, rather than on putting up new ones, to minimize the risk.

    “Our plan is to invest in established companies—with organizations to execute, rather than starting greenfield because by doing it that way, we minimize the risk,” said Ysmael. “We also ensure that there is immediate contribution to our bottomline, by having stake in an established operator, who share the same values as Ayala Land.”

    Ysmael said ALI’s expansion plans in the Asean is not exactly driven by the region’s economic integration, as the company had invested overseas even before this year.

    “In the past, we invested in the Asean prior to the Asian crisis, even other countries outside of Asean,” he pointed out. “Then we made a small investment in China. But now I think we would just like to focus on Asean.”

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