MANDALUYONG CITY Philippines — Kuok Philippines Properties Inc. is looking to the overseas Filipino market including Guamanians for its newest condominium project located in Mandaluyong City.

In an exclusive interview with the Journal Tomas C. Zita Jr. president of KPPI said the 60-story two-tower St. Francis Towers are good investments for overseas Filipino workers and Guamanians who come to the Philippines often for medical treatments and vacations. Filipinos comprise about 30% of the population on Guam.

The condo project which was launched in November and targeted for completion in late 2008 is located in the thriving Ortigas Business Center district. The condo is right next door to two popular shopping malls — the SM Megamall and Shangri-La Plaza Mall — a number of medical facilities (Medical City and American Eye Center) as well as dining and entertainment establishments. As it lies just a few meters away from the EDSA highway St. Francis Towers is accessible from other major urban areas such Quezon City Pasig City and Makati City.

“There is a growing number of overseas Filipinos who are buying condos and properties per se generally for investment. The current industry trend is at least one-third of the buyers of the various developments are overseas Filipinos generally from North America including Guam. So we want to tap into this market ” Zita said. He added that the company is currently finalizing plans for a road show in Guam. It is currently on a marketing road show in the U.S. and in January was in Europe promoting the condo to Filipino workers there.

Unlike other condo projects being marketed to overseas Filipinos and Guamanians he said the St. Francis Towers like other Kuok property projects are financed by internally generated funds instead of pre-selling of units.

“It is a Kuok development. Aside from Shangri-la Hotels & Resorts the [Kuok] Group has gained a reputation in property development in Australia China Hong Kong Malaysia Singapore and recently the Philippines with its first residential condo development The Shang Grand Tower in Legaspi Village Makati City. Also all Kuok Group projects are self-funded and thus they are completed in record time. Other developments rely on pre-selling revenue to kick off construction/development ” Zita said.

KPPI is a subsidiary of the Kuok Group of Malaysia owned by Robert Kuok one of the richest men in Asia according to Forbes magazine.

Prices of St. Francis condo units range from $55 000 for a studio to $175 000 for a two-bedroom unit. “All you need is to make a downpayment of 30% of the unit price another 30% payable over 42 months interest-free while the balance can be paid upon turnover of the unit ” Zita said.

He said the condo project was launched only in November and about 200 units of the 1 020 units available were sold by the end of December.

The marketing of the St. Francis Towers to overseas Filipinos and U.S. markets come on the heels of a fresh initiative by the Philippine Embassy in the U.S. to promote local property projects.

In a press statement on March 13 Albert del Rosario Philippine ambassador to the U.S. said the initiative which will be implemented beginning the second quarter of the year “will serve the two-fold purpose of boosting foreign investments and of increasing remittance inflows into the Philippines.” He added “Since this sector has a significant multiplier effect on the entire Philippine economy the movements in this sector are often used as a benchmark against which any economy is measured.”

The Philippine envoy noted “The Filipino-American community is composed of individuals who either have high levels of disposable income which they can use to purchase property in the Philippines or have modest means and thus will find it attractive to buy good property in the Philippines at a much lower cost than those in the U.S.”

The other advantage of this program he said is that it will “improve the level of remittance inflows which go through the formal channels of the financial system. “Given that our current campaign in the U.S. has resulted in a 31% increase in remittances or 60% of total remittances for 2005 we view this undertaking as one which will not only sustain but also improve the level of remittances moving forward.”

Through this project venues will be provided for Filipino property developers so that they can meet with and promote their products to the Filipino-American community in different parts of the U.S. through the assistance of the embassy and the consulates general.

A Philippine property development road show is slated to be held in the U.S. in May. The possibility of designating certain weekends as open houses in the consular offices — where consular services will be rendered while at the same time property developers can market their products — is also being considered he said.

The program will be jointly implemented by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Department of Trade and Industry and leading Philippine property developers.

St. Francis Towers was designed by the international team of architects — Wong & Tung International Ltd. and Recio + Casas Architects. All units will have balconies 2.9-meter clearing for ceilings six high-speed elevators garden duplexes and penthouse units. Among facilities and services to be made available are Wi-Fi facilities adult and children’s swimming pools deluxe banquet/function rooms multi-purpose room with karaoke facilities clubhouse game room Jacuzzi and a laundromat.

A listed company in the Philippines KPPI posted an income of 44 million pesos ($854 000) in the nine months ending September 2005 a turnaround from its losses amounting to 144 million pesos ($2.81 million) in the same period in 2004. MBJ