Richest Philippine tycoon Manny Villar eyes townships, exits low-cost homes

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Billionaire property developer Manuel Villar speaks to supporters during a concert rally dubbed
FILE PHOTO: Billionaire property developer Manuel Villar speaks to supporters during a concert rally dubbed "Rockatropa" in the town of Malolos, north of Manila, Philippines April 29, 2010. (Photo: TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)

By Ian Sayson

Billionaire Manuel Villar plans to begin developing and pre-selling properties in 44 so-called townships within a year, in a shift away from low-cost homes that helped him become the richest tycoon in the Philippines.

The mixed-used projects, located in 23 cities and with a combined area of 1,438 hectares, could boost Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc. worth, which should be three times its current value, said Villar, 72 and the company’s founder and chairman. Developing a hectare in the townships could cost P1.36 billion ($26 million), he said in a briefing Thursday.

“It’s now time to develop these properties,” said Villar, whose net worth is $8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The townships will host residential towers, offices and commercial space in undeveloped plots in Vista Land’s properties that were accumulated in more than three decades.

The move forms part of efforts toward building more residential towers and away from housing that cost P550,000 per unit, Villar said. Vista Land won’t sell homes priced at less than P2.5 million a unit beginning next year, he said.

The shift to building residential towers – which accounts for less than 5% of total revenue – should have started as early as five years ago, owing to rising incomes and values of the properties where the assets are, Villar said.

Vista Land, however, will continue sell house and lots, particularly in areas where cost of land remains low, said Villar, who began developing mass housing projects in the 1970s as an offshoot of a gravel and sand business.

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  • Apart from Vista Land’s real estate investment trust, Villar said he plans to hold maiden share sales for his companies operating small power plants, coffee shops and restaurants

  • The company operating plants on Siquijor and Camotes islands, with a combined capacity of 21.7 megawatts, will follow the maiden share sale of Vista Land’s REIT

  • The coffee shop venture should have 200 stores by the time it holds an IPO later this year or in early 2023, with the share sale size at more than one billion pesos

  • Villar’s media venture will start broadcasting this year and will consider video streaming and theme park businesses in the future

  • The AllDay retail venture is on track to hit a target of 100 stores by 2026, adding 7 to 8 outlets this year

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