Paolo Villar: Ban on POGOs not a problem for Vista Land given resurgent residential market, steady OFW demand

Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc. of ultra bilyonaryo Manny Villar appears to have nothing to lose with the proposed ban on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), claiming that the company has zero exposure to the Chinese-backed operations and that its housing business is doing well.

Vista Land is banking on its residential communities that serves as catchment for its mall developments, while BPO and traditional offices are the main tenants for its office space.

“Overseas Filipinos and our existing communities drive our residential and leasing businesses respectively and so far, we have seen this to continue,” Vista Land president and CEO Manuel Paolo Villar said.

The company also pointed out that majority of its gross floor area of investment properties are community-based malls and commercial centers.

Abacus Securities earlier identified Vista Land as the most vulnerable to an economic fallout from the proposed POGO ban, as the company has the biggest loan exposure among the country’s top real estate companies with a net debt to equity ratio of 128 percent.

“Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, we have managed our leverage by reducing our capital expenditures and took advantage of our existing land bank for developments,” Villar said as he assured the public of the company’s healthy financial position.

The younger Villar pointed out that the company’s residential business is self- funding as 80 percent of its buyers are mortgaged finance, while the expansion of its leasing business will be through REIT offerings.

“We also have a diversified funding sources which is a factor to our liability management exercise. Our net debt to equity stood at or 0.88 by end of June 30, 2022,” he said.

Citing the increased confidence from overseas Filipinos, the country’s largest homebuilder is welcoming the fourth quarter with renewed optimism.

Vista land said it has seen marked improvement in the foot traffic of its malls, while sales from its residential projects have been on an increasing trend with overseas Filipinos benefitting from the higher peso value of their dollar remittance.

The company launched P11 billion worth of projects during to the first semester, exceding projects launched in 2021.

“We are slated to launch more projects this quarter as we take advantage of the renewed confidence from our overseas Filipino buyers. Such confidence is also seen in the performance of our retail stores which translates to better mall revenues,” Villar said.