SMIC gears up to expand businesses nationwide

Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The SM Group is seeking to expand the reach of all its businesses beyond  Metro Manila, according to a top official.

“All of our businesses are in growth mode. A lot of expansion plans are geared toward provincial areas,” SMIC president and CEO Frederic DyBuncio said.

Even the gaming business, through Premium Leisure & Amusement Inc., a subsidiary of SMIC’s Belle Corp., is also looking to expand outside the Entertainment City in Paranaque, its president and CEO Armin Santos said in a press conference following yesterday’s meeting.

“At the moment, we are looking at various opportunities in the gaming space,” he said, adding that foreign gaming enthusiasts have slowly returned.

Premium Leisure is a subsidiary of Belle which has a partnership with Melco Crown Entertainment, which in turn operates integrated casino resort City of Dreams at the Entertainment City. Belle, one of the portfolio investments of SMIC, is a co-licensee and owner of the land where City of Dreams is located.

Santos said that the group is particularly waiting for the  plans of the  Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to privatize some of its gaming assets.

For the rest of SMIC’s businesses, such as banking, property and retail, DyBuncio said they plan to expand their footprint in Visayas and Mindanao.

SMIC is allocating capital expenditures of P85 billion  to P95 billion for this year.

“Overall, [SMIC] grew consolidated revenues by 26 percent to P554 billion and earnings by 53 percent to P62 billion in 2022. This exceeded pre-pandemic performance,” DyBuncio said in his report during the stockholders meeting.

He said the company has returned to its pre-pandemic strategy of expanding its footprint nationwide by opening new stores, malls, residences and bank branches.

“As economic growth strengthens in the provinces, we opened 348 retail stores, added 300,000 square meters of mall floor area and over 100 new bank branches outside Metro Manila in 2022,” he added.

The company remains optimistic about its  business prospects this year, given sustained consumer spending.

Reflecting this optimism, the company declared an increase in dividend payout to P9.165 billion or P7.50 per share in favor of stockholders on record as of May 11, 2023. The dividends are payable on May 25.

The dividend declaration represents a 20% percent increase from the previous year’s P6.25 per share.

“2022 was a year of remarkable growth as our businesses participated in the reopening of the economy. This performance is reflected in our dividend declaration. We remain optimistic about the business prospects going into 2023,” DyBuncio also said.

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