Ayala Land drops P6B project in Negros Occidental

by Barbara Mijar, ABS-CBN Bacolod

Posted at Sep 14 2012 05:59 PM | Updated as of Sep 15 2012 02:26 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) has dropped a P6-billion project to develop a 7.7-hectare property in Negros Occidental, according to Governor Alfredo Maranon, Jr. 

Marañon said he received a letter from Ayala Land on Thursday informing him of the property developer's pull-out from the project. 

"It's a big loss to the province. A huge investment. A very bad signal to prospective investors," he said. 

Marañon believes ALI was tired of waiting for the Commission on Audit's approval. The deal between ALI and the provincial government has been pending at the COA for the last 14 months. 

ALI head of corporate communications Jorge Marco said the company is not "unilaterally pulling out" of the project, but admitted it was disheartened with the delays and legal disputes.

"However, after more than a year since the property was awarded to Ayala Land for development, we are unable to pursue the project on account of the delays and legal disputes that continue to threaten its implementation, through no fault of ours," Marco said.

"As a publicly listed company with shareholders to answer to, we cannot operate in such uncertain conditions. We thus informed the Governor that we are open to discussing the possibility of a mutual disengagement from the project," he added. 

Last year, the province awarded ALI with deed of conditional sale and contract lease for the use of the property. ALI was planning to build a P6-billion complex on the property. However, SM Prime filed a case questioning the deal between ALI and the province. 

Marañon noted ALI had proposed to invest P6 billion in the project, compared to SM's P1.2 billion investment, which is why most businesses "endorsed" the ALI proposal.

The Negros Occidental governor said he will form a committee next week to study the provincial government's next course of action.  - With report from Coco Alcuaz, ANC and Liza Reyes, ABS-CBN News