SM group sets record capex for 2013

Mall of Asia is the SM group's showcase shopping mall. Photo by Bernard Testa means BUSINESS

MANILA - Henry Sy-led SM Investments Corp has set a record capital expenditure budget for next year, underscoring its commitment to expand amid the favorable prospects of the domestic economy.

In a briefing, Jose Sio, SM Investments chief financial officer, said the company’s capital spending will hit an all-time high of P65 billion in 2013, higher than this year's P56 billion.

The SM group intends to finance a third of its capital requirements through equity and loans, while two-thirds will be sourced from internally generated cash, Sio said.

A big chunk of next year's capex will bankroll SM’s mall and property development business, including Belle Corp, which is building an integrated resort complex in the Entertainment City of state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. The SM group has a 63 percent stake in Belle.

Mall developer and operator SM Prime Holdings Inc will spend a record P30 billion next year, P12-15 billion of which will be sourced from the local and overseas debt markets, said Jeffrey Lim, the company's executive vice president and chief financial officer.

SM Prime’s capex, which will largely bankroll expenses for the construction of its malls, includes a P5-6 billion budget for land banking activities, mostly in the provinces, Lim said.

Next year, SM Prime will open SM Aura in Taguig, the expanded SM Megamall and a new shopping center in Isabela.

SM Prime has earmarked P6 billion for SM Aura, which will house a civic center that we will be leased out to call center companies and government offices.

The expansion area in SM Megamall will add 100,000 square meters to its floor area, dislodging SM North Edsa as the company's biggest mall in the Philippines.  Upon completion, SM Megamall will have a gross floor area of 550,000 square meters, matching the size of its mall in Tianjin, China.

By 2014, SM Prime’s malls in Tianjin and Zibo, as well as its shopping centers in Sucat, Urdaneta and two other provincial areas, will begin commercial operations.

The SM Retail food group will open 20 to 30 stores across all formats to expand its network to 185 stores in 2013 from the projected 155 stores at end-December, said Robert Kwee, SM Hypermarkets president.

Majority of next year’s rollouts will be SaveMore stores, the stand-alone store format which is patterned after a typical neighborhood grocery. The SM Retail group also includes SM Hypermarkets and SM Supermarkets.

SM Investments president Harley Sy said the retail group is considering acquisition opportunities, “but it has to have a fit in our organization.”

“We are always open to opportunities, but so far we will proceed with our own expansion,” he said.

Expansion of the department store segment, on the other hand, will be anchored on the opening of new SM malls, said Chelo Monastero, senior vice president for operations at SM Retail.

SM Hotels and Conventions Corp will build at least five Park Inn by Radisson hotels in the next 6-7 years, inspired by the success of the first Park Inn hotel in Davao.

In the next few weeks, SM Hotels will break ground on a five-star 400-room hotel behind the SMX Convention Center in the Mall of Asia complex. It has yet to engage a company that will manage the hotel.

"We are looking at attaching the Park Inn hotels to the malls. We are looking at targeting corporate and leisure travelers," said Reynaldo Villar, SM Hotels executive vice president.