SPEAKING before the Regis CEO Roundtable Series last May 18, Fernando Zobel de Ayala (FZA), president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Ayala Corporation, disclosed that “two of Ayala’s most cyclical businesses – Ayala Land (ALI) and Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) – are priming themselves for a post-pandemic economic recovery. While real estate and banking have been adversely affected by the pandemic, these sectors are also prepared for a strong rebound as the country’s vaccination rollout accelerates and the economy fully reopens.”

As the vaccine rollout gains more ground and cities gear up to regain economic footing, Ayala Land helps to spur recovery through continuous activity in its properties and by planning estates to become less congested, more resilient growth centers.

According to Bernard Vincent O. Dy, ALI president and CEO, South Coast City, the 26-hectare development of ALI and SM Prime in Cebu’s South Road Properties, will amplify the metropolitan coastal experience unique to the Queen City of the South. Within it is District Square, a prime waterside commercial zone that will be the economic core of the estate and a one-hectare park that will allow for various activities and link the estate’s pedestrian network.

In Pampanga and Tarlac, ALI is combining economic energy and relaxing suburban pace with the Alviera and Crescendo estates envisioned to epitomize growth outside Metro Manila. Integrating business, leisure, tourism, and education components while respecting nature and the local character of their host provinces, the two estates are expected to benefit from and contribute to Central Luzon’s rising economic potential. The Alviera Country Club is a sports and lifestyle membership club with areas for recreation, relaxation and special events. Don Bosco Tarlac in Crescendo plans to offer senior high school in 2023 and technical-vocational education in 2025.

Transitioning from response to recovery, Jose Teodoro “TG” Limcaoco, BPI’s newly installed president and CEO, laid down five key imperatives that will drive the bank to achieve more for the Filipino people: turn BPI into the undisputed leader in digital banking services, create a greater SME and consumer share in its loan book, close the gap in funding leadership, refocus branches as sales points and not only as service points for customers, and further promote sustainable banking.

Another priority for the new BPI head is elevating customer service and experience. He said that a banker needs to “put yourself in the shoes of the customer” to enhance your customer’s experience, with digitalization as an enabler to achieve this end. “We need to be very focused on the customer, on their experience with us, through our digital platforms and our branches. We will build on the trust of the clients through every touchpoint they have with us.”

Meanwhile, Ayala Corporation completed the offer of the first tranche of its P30 billion debt securities, listing P10 Billion bonds at the Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corporation on May 28. The offer, which was 10 times oversubscribed marked the first time that Ayala has tapped the local debt market in four years. It was also the largest five-year allocation among dual-tranche offers during the pandemic, a reflection of the markets confidence in Ayala’s long-term stability and credit strength.

Ayala Chief Finance Officer Alberto M. de Larrazabal and Treasurer Estelito C. Biacora noted that the offer consisted of P4 Billion Series A Bonds due 2024 at a coupon rate of 3.0260 percent and P6 Billion Series B Bonds due 2026 at 3.7874 percent.

FZA said: “The Ayala group has always been and continues to be an active participant of the capital markets. During the health crisis, Ayala Corp, Ayala Land, BPI, Globe, Manila Water and AC Energy raised over P190 billion in combined proceeds from the domestic and international capital markets to allow us to take advantage of opportunities and further solidify our balance sheet during these challenging times.”

The regulator is very pleased. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairperson Emilio Aquino noted Ayala’s role in realizing the “capital market’s potential to sustain our economy’s expansion and bring growth to every Filipino.” Added Aquino: “As issuers, you create legitimate investment opportunities. And through the capital market, you make accessible and thereby allow fellow Filipinos to share with your business success. By pursuing your expansion projects responsibly and sustainably, more of our fellow Filipinos can be employed and will be able to provide for and secure a better future for their families.”

Antonio Nakpil, president and CEO of Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corporation (PDEX), is also all praises for the Ayala group, led by Ayala Corporation, which Nakpil described as “the longest-standing supporters, constructive contributors, and most active group of issuer participants of the domestic capital market.”

Parenthetically, the Ayala group’s investment banking arm, BPI Capital, headed by Rhoda Huang, has been an active participant in the fundraising activities across the Ayala group and an especially important partner in the group’s shift towards sustainable financing. In 2020, BPI CAP helped launch BPI’s CARE Bonds and the highly successful AREIT, among many landmark capital raising. Now BPI CAP is all set to help arrange the biggest IPO ever (P40B) for food manufacturer Monde Nissin.

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