Saturday, 2 May 2009

Philippines' SMIC declares more cash dividend

Kristine Jane R. Liu

The holding company of the Sy family will declare more cash dividend to stakeholders this year amdist an economic slowdown.

The Sy-led holding firm SM Investments Corp. (SMIC) has increased its cash dividend by 17% to P6.88 per share this year compared with P5.90 last year.

A total of P4.2 billion will be released by SMIC to shareholders of record dated May 29. This represents almost a third of the P14 billion full-year net income that SMIC posted last year.

"The increase in the dividend per share this year is our way of expressing our appreciation to our shareholders," SMIC President Harley T. Sy said.

SMIC remains in the expansion mode this year despite most analysts’ warning that consumer spending will likely slowdown. The company has set aside P31 billion this year to expand domestic and China businesses, up from last year’s P24 billion.

Of the amount, a huge chunk will be spent for mall operator SM Prime Holdings, Inc. which plans to open two more mall this year — SM Pamplona in Las Piñas and SM Rosario in Cavite — on top of SM City Naga which it opened yesterday.

By yearend, SM Prime will have 36 malls nationwide and three malls in China, with an estimated gross floor area of 4.9 million square meter.

Meanwhile, SM Development plans to launch four new projects worth P15-billion this year saying that demand is still there. The property unit reported a 30-fold increase to P419 million in its net income from January to December.

SMIC’s retail sector also plans to open 14 branches of the SaveMore supermarket, two SM Supermarkets, four SM Hypermarkets, and two SM Department Stores on top of existing 97 retail stores in the country.

Banking units Banco de Oro Unibank, Inc. (BDO) and China Banking Corp. are each planning their own expansion.

BDO will redeploy its remaining 37 branch licenses in "high-growth" areas, which will bring the bank’s network to over 700 branches, one of the largest in the country.

China Bank, the group’s commercial bank, meanwhile plans to open 58 branches nationwide, bringing total branches to 272.

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