By Arra B. Francia
Senior Reporter

GT Capital Holdings, Inc. is looking for local or foreign partners to help develop portions of the P20 billion worth of land it received after its divestment from Property Company of Friends, Inc. (Pro-Friends), a top official said last week.

GT Capital President Carmelo Maria Luza Bautista said they are developing a master plan for 600 hectares out of the 702 hectares in selected assets from Pro-Friends, which cover parts of Imus, General Trias, and Bacoor in Cavite.

“Once the master plan is developed or is better defined, the intention is to look for local or foreign joint venture partners to facilitate it so we can monetize the asset, given the overall size of the project,” Mr. Bautista said during a briefing in Taguig City last week.

Mr. Bautista said they can tap both local and foreign partners for the project given its size.

“If you can identify another Isetan Mitsukoshi equivalent for masterplanned communities, then that will be the case,” Mr. Bautista said, referring to subsidiary Federal Land, Inc.’s partner in developing its residential and retail complex project in Bonifacio Global City.

“We also have very good partnerships with local conglomerates and we are open to some of them,” he added.

GT Capital returned its 51% stake in Pro-Friends in exchange for the 702-hectare land earlier this month, explaining that rising property prices no longer make their land bank suitable for affordable housing projects. It noted that land values of other property players in the area range from P17,000 to P52,000 per square meter.

The transaction is still awaiting approval from the Philippine Competition Commission.

Once approved, the company plans to develop the Cavite portion into a mix of mid-rise residential properties and commercial projects that will target the mid-income segment.

“Ongoing infrastructure projects may translate to higher land prices in the medium-term,” the company said.

These infrastructure projects include the Manila-Cavite Expressway (CAVITEx) and the CAVITEx C-5 South Link that will both be finished by 2021, as well as the Cavite-Laguna Expressway that will be completed in 2022.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bautista said the remaining parcels of land in Metro Manila can be developed into high-rise condominiums by Federal Land. These are located in Shaw Boulevard, Santolan, and along Daang Hari road.

GT Capital’s net income attributable to the parent dropped by eight percent to P3.42 billion in the first quarter of 2019, even as revenues added three percent to P47.02 billion. The conglomerate was weighed down by lower sales from its auto and property business units.