SM Prime mulls $200-M syndicated loan

By Zinnia B. dela Peña, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 01 2013 08:36 AM | Updated as of Feb 01 2013 04:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Shopping mall giant SM Prime Holdings Inc. is planning to raise around $200 million through a syndicated loan facility to bankroll its aggressive expansion here and in China, a company official said.

In an interview, SM Prime chief financial officer Jeffrey Lim said the company is in talks with several financial institutions for a syndicated loan transaction, targeted in the first or second quarter this year.

Lim said the company remains on an expansion binge to capitalize on a booming economy and robust consumer spending.

The firm has set a P63-billion three-year capital spending program to build up to 18 malls in its bid to become a regional player.

SM Prime may spend P21 billion each year to build four to five new malls at home and one mall annually in China.

SM Prime ended 2012 with 46 malls across the country and five in China, with an estimated combined gross floor area of 6.3 million square meters.

The SM China malls are enjoying healthy increases in rental rates with occupancy level currently at 95 percent.

SM Prime continues to sees vast opportunities in China given the latter’s growing population and emerging middle-class.

The group is currently looking to acquire five properties in its second biggest market to further widen its geographical footprint.

The expansion is also in line with the SM Group’s strategy to list its China assets either in Hong Kong or Singapore by 2015 in a public offering that could fetch up to $500 million.