• Golden Haven eyes pre-need plans after strong IPO

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    FOLLOWING its successful market debut on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), the Villar family’s Golden Haven Memorial Park Inc. (ticker symbol HVN) is looking at expanding into the pre-need plans business, a company official said.

    Maribeth Tolentino, the HVN’s chief operating officer, told reporters such a move would enable Golden Haven to care across all segments in the death care industry.

    Tolentino noted that other than pre-need services, the five segments of the death care sector include memorial lots, funeral chapels, merchandises, columbarium and crematorium.

    Golden Haven, one of the leading developers of memorial parks in the country with 55.2 hectares of development, has recently started offering services other than just memorial lots.

    “In areas where we may not have certain services, we are looking at tying up with local companies,” Tolentino said on the sidelines of HVN’s listing on the PSE.

    She said the expansion into the pre-need industry is still in the conceptualization stage since they still have to work out the ownership structure, whether the new firm will be a subsidiary of Golden Haven or whether it will be another Villar firm.

    Trading in Golden Haven shares gave the market a much-needed boost. The stock surged nearly 50 percent to close at P15.74 per share from its initial public offering price of P10.50 apiece.

    The strong market debut came as a surprise to many analysts, who were expecting HVN shareholders to sell their respective positions the moment the stock is listed on the main board as it is perceived to be “slightly overpriced.” Some analysts added that “Chinese investors do not want to invest in business that is death-related.”

    HVN chief finance officer Roy Joseph Fernandez said that according to their underwriter, Asian Alliance Investment Corp., the IPO of 74.12 million new common shares worth P778.26 million was more than two times oversubscribed by local institutions and private investors.

    “The listing allows the company to enjoy an increased credit profile which affords us better flexibility in our funding strategy moving forward. Now we have access to both the equity and the debt capital markets as source of funds,” Fernandez said.

    Proceeds from the IPO will be used by the company to fund its land acquisition, land development, construction and completion of the Las Piñas chapel and crematorium, and for general corporate purposes.

    Golden Haven chairman Jerry Navarrete said, “The fresh capital raised will help us with our strategy of having a ‘Park in Every Hometown,’ targeting to achieve our vision of becoming the nationally-recognized brand in the death care products and services industry, providing premier private memorial parks and services to all Filipinos.”

    Meanwhile, Tolentino said “the company will continue its strategic expansion throughout the country by acquiring land that will focus on key locations where Vista Land has projects to capitalize on the marketing synergies between the two companies.”

    “With this strategy, it would be inevitable for Golden Haven to expand its death care services to an array of memorial services offered in the market,” she added.

    Golden Haven will open four more memorial parks this year in Pampanga, Cebu, Nueva Vizcaya and Batangas that will add about 39,000 memorial lots with a sales value of P1.8 billion to their inventory.

    The company aims to set foot on all 95 cities and municipalities where affiliate Vista Land & Lifescapes is already present to take advantage of the synergy provided by Vista Land’s marketing network, suppliers and contractors.

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