Investment & Capital Corporation of the Philippines (ICCP), an investment bank that’s at the core of the ICCP Group of Companies, a conglomerate whose other businesses include property, was, for all intents and purposes, a gamble that its founder, Guillermo D. Luchangco, took. Mr. Luchangco started it in 1988, when the Philippines was still in the early stages of its recovery from a 21-year authoritarian rule.
“After the end of the Marcos administration, there was a general upbeat attitude about the economy of the Philippines,” he said in an interview with BusinessWorld. Though he was the head of a publicly listed glass company he did not found at the time, he stepped down just so he could start from scratch. “I resigned because I thought it was a good time to start a business….”
ICCP, an investment house not affiliated with any established bank, was the result of that intrepid move. While it was still unclear whether this start-up would succeed, Mr. Luchangco was very clear about what he wanted his company to be known for — integrity, ethics and quality.
ICCP is now one of the country’s leading independent investment houses, providing investment banking advisory services to large and mid-sized companies as well as to foreign investors. It has also played a crucial part in the creation of big-ticket real-estate projects in key cities and municipalities across the country, like industrial parks, that generate plenty of investment opportunities and jobs.
Building vast industrial estates is what Science Park of the Philippines, Inc. (SPPI) primarily does. Mr. Luchangco established this in 1989, just a year after ICCP was born. “I have always been interested in developmental type of projects because I’m an engineer,” said Mr. Luchangco, a chemical engineering graduate from De La Salle University who went on to earn an MBA from Harvard University.
It was not only his enthusiasm that led him to venture into industrial estate development. He was aware of the need for it. “I started Science Park of Philippines because at that time… it was difficult for a manufacturing company from abroad to come into the Philippines to set up a factory because they had to worry about the land, they had to worry about the utilities,” he said. If there was an estate that had all the facilities and amenities they needed, then the manufacturers could direct all their attention to their core activities.
SPPI has already developed a number of sprawling estates spanning some 800 hectares in different parts of the country, either on its own or in partnership with other companies. Among these are the Light Industry & Science Park of the Philippines I (LISP I) and LISP II in Laguna, LISP III and IV in Batangas, Cebu Light Industrial Park in Cebu, and Hermosa Ecozone Industrial Park in Bataan. Multinational corporations, some of which are Fortune 500 companies, have chosen to locate their factories in these parks.
It seemed inevitable that the Luchangco-led ICCP Group would go into residential property development. Pueblo de Oro Development Corp. was established in the 1990s to build homes for the Filipino families. The crown jewel of the company’s portfolio is the 360-hectare master-planned community in Cagayan de Oro City. Besides houses, it has a mall, an educational institution, a hotel, and the Pueblo de Oro Golf & Country Club, which features an all-weather championship golf course designed by the renowned architectural firm Robert Trent Jones II.
Pueblo de Oro has also put up a number of gated villages. There are Asian-themed duplexes within the 8-hectare Park Place, near the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Cebu. Zen-inspired two-storey single-attached homes are found in The Horizon Residences in Batangas.
Manila Exposition Complex, Inc., which owns World Trade Center Metro Manila (WTCMM), a world-class exhibition venue that opened in 1996, was established for pretty much the same reason as SPPI. On his trips abroad, Mr. Luchangco would sometimes have a word with the organizers of the exhibitions he attended. “They told me, ‘We cannot put our show in the Philippines because your country’s facilities are embarrassing,’” Mr. Luchangco recalled.
This is not the case anymore. With more than 11,300 square meters of gross floor area, the WTCMM has been the go-to venue for numerous international and professional events since its opening. It has already played host to such occasions as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference; the National Women’s Summit graced by former First Lady of the US Hillary Clinton; and the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference attended by prominent Asian economic ministers.
Before the turn of the millennium, another company was added to the group — the ICCP Venture Partners, Inc. It is now called the ICCP SBI Venture Partners, Inc., after the Japanese financial services company SBI Holdings bought a stake in the original ICCP Venture.
Since its founding in 1997, the company, staffed with seasoned partners and advisors from the country and Silicon Valley, has funded 35 companies in high-growth industries. The firm, Mr. Luchangco said, is currently raising its sixth fund.
ICCP Group is composed of more than 14 companies, including the five above. Mr. Luchangco hopes to see all of them grow into much bigger businesses. Right now, the group’s net total assets stand at P23 billion, an amount that far exceeds that P100 million Mr. Luchangco was able to pool from investors to start the investment bank. “I’d like to see that grow 50% to 100% within five years,” he said. “So we have to run fast to do that.”