BULLISH about Cebu’s real estate industry, Ayala Corp. intends to buy more land to strengthen its presence in the province.

“We will definitely expand,” said Ayala Corp. chairman and chief executive officer Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala in a recent visit to Cebu.

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“We are putting emphasis on our real estate business by slowly bringing to the province the Ayala Land brands,” Zobel said, citing the high-rise commercial building and residential projects Avida Towers and eBloc 2, which were launched earlier this year.

“Let’s see where else we can find potential areas in Cebu,” he said.

Zobel was in Cebu to receive the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Grand Chamber Award for Ayala Corp. for its adoption of sustainable development in all its strategies, practices and activities.

Ayala Corp. was the first group of companies to issue a Global Reporting Initiative-compliant Sustainability Report in the Philippines.

Rights offer

Aside from strengthening its real estate presence in Cebu, Zobel said the firm will intensify the operations of its banking arm, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI).

Zobel said BPI is looking at expanding the bank’s loan portfolio after its P10-billion stock rights offer.

According to the bank’s disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, BPI conducted the rights issue to grow and strengthen its market-leading businesses and core franchises, and to further solidify its industry-leading capital adequacy and financial strength.

BPI said it hopes to increase loans and other credit products.

“We will be putting more weight on loans to consumers and small businesses,” he said.

Capital base

He said BPI’s stock rights offer, while mainly to strengthen its capital base, is also a sign of the firm’s belief that business activities in the sector will continue to expand.

BPI has appointed J.P Morgan (S.E.A) Ltd. to manage the stock rights offer.

BPI reported a net income of P2.7 billion in the first quarter of the year, down from P2.8 billion a year earlier.

Its total asset base, however, grew by eight percent to P695 billion as deposits expanded by eight percent to P558 billion, mainly from low-cost peso deposits.