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Bullish on post-COVID Philippines, Ayala boosts investment 16%

Conglomerate anticipates strong demand in Manila property development

High-rise condos developed by Ayala in Makati, a city in Metro Manila: The group invested 45.3 billion pesos over the first nine months of 2020 for residential and commercial sites.

MANILA -- Ayala will increase capital spending by 16% to 182 billion pesos ($3.8 billion) in 2021, the Philippine conglomerate says, with a large chunk expected to go to its main real estate and telecommunications segments.

Subsidiary Ayala Land invested 45.3 billion pesos over the first nine months of 2020 to develop residential buildings and commercial facilities, while the Globe Telecom unit devoted 33.4 billion pesos to building communications networks.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt the group's earnings, Ayala will keep investing in those crucial fields, anticipating strong demand for its properties under development in Manila and elsewhere once the coronavirus comes under control. The 2021 investment plan was revealed by Fernando Zobel de Ayala, president and chief operating officer, in an online conference with government officials.

Ayala's capital investment topped 200 billion pesos in 2018 and 2019. Plans called for 275 billion pesos in 2020, but the figure fell to 157 billion pesos as many projects were delayed by lockdowns enacted to prevent the spread of the virus. Some of these postponed projects are expected to be carried out in 2021.

Zobel de Ayala expressed hope that Philippine economic growth will recover to between 5% and 6% in 2021, citing a smaller-than-expected decline in money sent home by Filipinos working abroad.

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