MANILA, February 9, 2005 (STAR) By Zinnia B. Dela Peña  - Banking on the increasingly bright prospects of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, upscale property developer Megaworld Corp. will put up a new cyberbuilding at the Eastwood City in Quezon City, estimated to cost around P3 billion.

Eastwood City is a 16-hectare commercial and business enclave that houses a cyberpark, where a number of call centers and information technology firms are located.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Megaworld said it will develop a state-of-the-art office building suited for the needs of companies in the BPO and information technology sectors.

To be named 1880 Eastwood Avenue, the building will be developed in two phases with the first one costing between P1.2 billion to P1.5 billion. The first phase will have a gross building area of 40,000 square meters and is slated for completion by the first quarter of 2007. The second phase, on the other hand, will occupy 50,000 square meters.

"The office development is consistent with Megaworld’s commitment to provide the rapidly growing Philippine business process outsourcing industry with real estate solutions custom-tailored to their requirements in an IT-friendly environment such as that offered by the country’s premier cyberpark," Megaworld said.

Megaworld said the office building will assure the locators at the cyberpark that the company will continue to provide them with enough room for their expansion.

Apart from this, the company is looking to build more office space for BPO firms in other strategic locations.

Through the combined efforts of the Department of Trade and Industry and key BPO players, the Philippines is poised to capture a bigger share of the global outsourcing market, particularly call center services. BPO is the country’s fastest-growing sector and studies show that it will be a multi-billion dollar industry in the next few years.

Megaworld expects its 2004 net profit to rise 25 percent to 30 percent, mainly due to contributions from its middle-income projects and rentals of office space by outsourcing companies. The company is looking at a net income of between P717 million and P746 million in 2004 as against P574.2 million the previous year.

The company said it expects to perform better this year with the launch of new projects such as Newport City at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

Newport will be developed into a mixed-use complex consisting of a shopping center, low-rise condominiums, a casino, and an airport hotel. About P7 billion has been earmarked for this project which is in joint venture with the government’s Bases Conversion Development Authority.

Megaworld is one of the country’s biggest property Firms. In 1994, it spun off Empire East Land Holdings, Inc. and Empire East Properties Inc. to cater to the needs of the middle-and low-income markets, respectively.

Megaworld will spend about P4 billion this year to further develop Eastwood and to start construction at Newport. The company also plans to develop other large-scale projects such as Forbes Town Center and Mckinley Hill in Fort Bonifacio.

Mckinley Hill will comprise a residential subdivision, low-rise condominiums and a commercial center. The project is a 50-50 joint venture with the Alliance Global Group Inc.

Megaworld has already started construction of luxury garden residences that make up the first phase of the P15-billion Forbes Town Center.

The company hopes to complete all residential condominium developments between 2005 and 2008. Funding will come from internally generated cash although Megaworld said it could tap borrowings in the latter part of the year.

Megaworld will start in April the development of the recently-acquired 16-hectare land within the Self-Reliance and Development Program Complex at Fort Bonifacio. It will lease the property from the Taguig Municipal’s Office for 25 years, renewable at the option of the developer.

The company intends to develop the property into an educational and institutional center, sports center and other related facilities.

Apart from property development, Megaworld is also into hotel operations through Prestige Hotels & Resorts Inc., a subsidiary which operates the Richmonde Hotel in the Ortigas Center.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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