Ayala group has once again topped the list of publicly listed companies with the highest standards in good governance.

Ayala Corporation, Ayala Land, Inc. and Manila Water Company were recognized as Platinum Plus awardees during yesterday’s Annual Dinner staged by the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD).

The Platinum Plus Award is given to companies who have been part of the Gold circle for four consecutive years.

Bank of the Philippine Islands also achieved Gold standing this year joining the category of companies with 95% and above ratings.

Silver citations were also given to Globe Telecom, Integrated Micro-Electronics, Inc., and ALI subsidiary Cebu Holdings Inc. with scores ranging from 90 to 94%.

Evaluation was based on the companies’ practices pertaining to shareholder rights, equitable treatment of shareholders, role of stakeholders, disclosure and transparency, and board responsibilities.

“Our experience in the Ayala group, being an enterprise that has been operating for the past 178 years, affirms that good governance is imperative in creating a sustainable enterprise over the long term,” said Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Chairman and CEO.

This year’s corporate governance scorecard evaluated a total 196 publicly-listed firms yielding an average score of 76%.

Ayala Net Income Jumps 42% in the First Quarter

Ayala Corporation’s net income reached P3.5 billion in the first quarter, 42% higher compared to the same period last year. This was driven by a 35% increase in equity earnings as its real estate, banking, and water businesses registered strong double-digit growth in earnings in the first three months of the year. Significant improvements in its electronics and business process outsourcing businesses also helped lift earnings during the period.

Real estate unit, Ayala Land, Inc., maintained solid growth posting a 31% increase in net income to P2.1 billion. This was underpinned by strong revenues and net income margin improvement. Revenues grew by 17% to P12.4 billion with double-digit increases across all business segments. Residential and property development revenues grew by 18% on the back of strong take-up of Ayala Land Premier, Alveo and Avida residential products, which combined, nearly doubled versus the first quarter of last year. Revenues from its commercial leasing and hotels and resorts businesses also grew by 21% and 16%, respectively, as it continued to expand gross leasable area. Ayala Land remains on track with its 37-billion peso capital expenditure program this year for project completion and land acquisitions.

Its banking unit, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), registered a net income of P5.8 billion, significantly ahead of the previous year’s P2.8 billion. This was fuelled by its core banking business as well as securities trading gains. Loans grew by 20% as lending remained brisk across all customer segments, while the bank’s 30-day non-performing loan ratio improved further to 2.0%. BPI’s deposits grew by 7%, putting total assets under management to P716 billion, up 15% year-on-year. Net interest income grew by 8% aided by a 14 basis point improvement in net interest margin. The bank’s earnings were further enhanced by trading gains amounting to P3.7 billion as the bank sold some of its securities in inventory. BPI is set to pay a special cash dividend of P0.50 per share in addition to its regular cash dividend of P0.90 per share for the first half of the year.

Telecom unit, Globe Telecom (Globe), continued to build on the momentum it achieved over the past six quarters. Consolidated revenues in the first quarter reached a new all-time high of P20.2 billion, 6% higher year-on-year. Its mobile business performed strongly driven by robust demand for its postpaid and prepaid services. Globe’s broadband business also continued to grow with revenues up 13% year-on-year. Its new mobile and broadband services attracted subscribers which resulted in higher net adds during the period, pushing mobile subscriber base to 31 million, up 14% versus last year, and broadband subscribers to 1.5 million, 26% higher versus the same period last year. Operating expenses and subsidy were higher driven by the growth in postpaid customers and expenses related to the Company’s network modernization program. This, coupled with higher financing and other non-operating charges, resulted in a 10% decline in reported net income. Core net income, which excludes foreign exchange and mark-to-market charges and one-off items, was 7% lower at P2.7 billion.

Its water unit, Manila Water Co., Inc. posted a net income of P1.3 billion, 64% higher than the same period last year. This was a result of higher revenues due to strong sales in the East Zone and the impact of the tariff increase implemented at the start of this year. Revenues grew by 28% with new businesses in Laguna, Boracay and Clark contributing nearly 5% of total. Operating expenses, however, increased by 23% due to higher power and overhead costs as the company continued to expand its water and wastewater network coverage and pursued new business initiatives. Manila Water was recently awarded the bulk water supply project in Cebu and was also recently awarded the right to purchase a 49% stake in Kenh Dong Water Supply which owns and operates major water infrastructure in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

In the meantime, Ayala’s international businesses reported improvements in performance during the quarter. Its electronics unit, Integrated Microelectronics, Inc. (IMI) posted a 128% growth in net income year-on-year as revenues grew by 24%. This was attributed to the company’s business expansion in Europe and Mexico and reduced operating expenses.

The investee companies of its BPO holding company, LiveIt, likewise improved results with combined revenues of US$255 million, of which LiveIt’s share was US$83 million, up 12% versus the prior year. Greater scale and cost efficiencies resulted in its share of EBITDA growing by 18% to US$7 million, and in the further reduction of its net loss, which was primarily due to acquisition related charges.

Ayala Corporation president and chief operating officer Fernando Zobel de Ayala noted, “We are encouraged by the sustained growth trajectory of our core businesses and the improving performance of our international businesses. Domestic consumption remains robust which continues to benefit our core businesses. We continue to pursue our capital investment and expansion plans, taking advantage of this favourable macro-economic environment and ensure we sustain our growth momentum moving forward.”

Ayala is looking to participate in selected infrastructure projects under the government’s public private partnership (PPP) program. The company recently partnered with Metro Pacific Investments Corp. to jointly pursue light rail transit projects in Metro Manila after winning the first road project under the PPP program.

It was also recently awarded by Ho Chi Minh City Infrastructure Investment Joint Stock Company (“CII”), the right to purchase a 10% stake in CII. CII is a leading player in the infrastructure sector in Vietnam with a portfolio of strategic infrastructure assets, including water treatment plants and toll roads serving Ho Chi Minh City and surrounding areas.

Ayala recently raised P10 billion through a corporate bond issue to gear up for potential capital requirements.

Ayala ended the quarter with cash at the parent level of nearly P14 billion and net debt to equity of 0.23 to 1. The company’s share price has risen by 47% year-to-date, closing yesterday at P458.80 per share.

The above statement pertains to the disclosure made today, May 11, 2012, to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Philippine Stock Exchange, and Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corporation, by Ayala chief finance officer Delfin C. Gonzalez, Jr.

Ayala Corporation Issues P10-Billion Bond

Ayala Corporation commences today its public offer of P10-billion 15-year corporate bonds due 2027. This would be the first corporate bond in the domestic capital market with a 15-year tenor. Bonds bear an interest rate of 6.875 per cent per annum.

Ayala is raising funds for its capital requirements to enable the company to realize opportunities for expansion both through organic growth of its existing business lines as well as value-accretive acquisitions. This includes opportunities presented by various domestic infrastructure projects. The company recently won the bid for the Daang Hari connector road under the government’s public private partnership program. It also recently forged an agreement with the Metro Pacific group to jointly pursue and develop light rail transit projects in Metro Manila. Part of the proceeds of the bond offer will also be used to prepay the company’s debt.

Ayala Corporation treasurer Ramon Opulencia noted, “We always ensure that we maintain a highly flexible funding position at the holding company level that will allow us to invest in sizable projects without impeding other value-enhancing initiatives we are currently undertaking. The low-interest rate environment and the robust liquidity in the system provide an ideal environment for us to be able to stretch our tenors and match the anticipated long gestation period of the investments that Ayala envisions.”

Ayala has been a consistent and innovative issuer in the domestic capital market over the past few years. It has pioneered investment products in the local market that provided the broader investing public, particularly retail investors, with alternative investment choices. In May 2011 Ayala raised P10 billion through a bond offering that was the first to provide investors with multiple put options. One of its landmark capital market deals, among others, was a local currency denominated hybrid shares launched in 2006 which had a follow-on offer in 2008.

Ayala Corporation’s balance sheet remains strong. It ended 2011 with a very healthy cash position and a low gearing level with net debt to equity ratio of 0.24 to 1.

This year’s P10-billion bond offer will be offered to the public through the mandated underwriters, namely, BPI Capital Corp., BDO Capital & Investment Corp., First Metro Investment Corp., Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp., ING Bank Manila, RCBC Capital Corp., SB Capital Investment Corp., and Standard Chartered Bank.

The bonds will be listed in the Philippine Dealing and Exchange System (PDEX) on May 11, 2012.