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Marco Polo Residences, Cebu City

Philippine developer Federal Land recently announced the development of three branded luxury residential condominiumsin Nivel Hills, Cebu City, with two towers set to open in 2014.

Luxury Living in Cebu

The first tower, Marco Polo Residences, will be turned over this month, whilst the second structure, Two Residences, is scheduled to open later in the year. Marco Polo Parkview, the third tower, is still under construction.

Designed by local architect Bong Recio in collaboration with The Gettys Group (Chicago), the mixed-use serviced residences are located near the landmark Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

The site is minutes away from Cebu International Airport and many tourist attractions such as Ayala Center Cebu, Mactan Shrine and Magellan’s Cross.

The three towers overlook the Mactan Channel and feature outdoor landscaping by EA Aurelio Landscape Architects.

Amenities include full concierge services, cleaning and valet services, room service-style dining options and a world-class security system.

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By Ilyce Glink | CBS MoneyWatch – Mon, Jun 24, 2013 12:13 PM EDT

Americans who dream of a retirement filled with sandy beaches, temperate weather and colorful local life may have another thing coming.

That’s because a new report from the National Institute on Retirement Security finds that 45 percent of working-age households have no retirement savings at all. The average figure for funds set aside by households nearing the end of their working lives was a meager $12,000. That’s not enough to cover a single year.

If there is no change in their savings rate, many Americans may wind up living on monthly Social Security benefits alone. Monthly benefits now average just $1,262 — an amount that doesn’t cover housing costs in most retirement hot spots in the U.S.

But it is possible to retire with nothing more Social Security benefits if you do so outside the U.S. In some of the most affordable, but still appealing, cities in the world, an expat can live on just $1,250 per month.

Live and Invest Overseas, a publication and research firm specializing in overseas living, found six places where Americans could live well on the cheap. The company’s Retire Overseas index uses 12 factors, including climate, whether English is spoken, cost of living, health care and infrastructure, to determine the best cities to retire.

In any of the six Asian and Latin American cities the index dubs most affordable, retirees can live in luxury — and without breaking the bank. In these cities, $1,250 is enough to cover all your living expenses, from housing to dining to travel.

Cebu, Philippines

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Cebu, a developed province in the Philippines, has some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world: narrow coastlines with bright blue waters and limestone plateaus offset by rolling hills and rugged mountains.

Cebu is home to Mactan-Cebu International Airport, from which it is easy for retirees to fly back to U.S. And Mactan-Cebu makes it just as easy for family and friends to fly in for a visit. The cost of living here is extremely low, so your dollar goes four times as far. To top it off, the Philippines offers generous residency visas for retirees.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

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Chiang Mai is a historic city located along the Ping River, nestled within some of Thailand’s tallest mountains, which are dotted with Buddhist temples. The city hosts several festivals, including Loi Krathong, where residents launch decorative lanterns whose heat sends them skyward, and the Flower Festival, which takes place when the city’s tropical flowers are in full bloom.

Chiang Mai bustles with unique cafes and markets but quiets down once you step outside the city center. It’s an extremely affordable place to live, with monthly expenses clocking in at under $1,000 a month. Large homes in gated communities in this city cost a fraction of their American counterparts. Many retirees live here; you can see an English-speaking doctor in Chiang Mai for as little as $20. The Chiang Mai Expats Club, with 650 members, is one of the best ways to become acquainted with the city and tap the knowledge of retirees already living in the area.

Cuenca, Ecuador

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Cuenca is located just outside the El Cajas National Park, where the snowy peaks of rugged mountains rise up above mirrored lakes. UNESCO has designated the city a World Heritage Site, a distinction granted because of beautiful historical landmarks that include cathedrals, museums and parks. It a has distinctly European vibe reminiscent of Barcelona and Paris, and for American expats may bring to mind San Francisco.

Cuenca’s beautiful natural setting and ideal climate — temperatures average in the mid-70s year-round — have attracted expats for years. The cost of living is low, and the city’s school, health care and political systems are well run.

Granada, Nicaragua

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Granada has rapidly developed into a tourism hub, thanks to the city’s preservation of its colonial-era architecture. Americans and Europeans have been snapping up homes for some time. The city may be the cheapest place in the world to retire and live well. A couple can enjoy sunsets over its red tile roofs and marvel at its blue-and-white church steeples for less than $800 a month.

Granada sits on the edge of Lake Nicaragua near the dormant volcano Mombacho. The expat community in this naturally beautiful setting is very close-knit, and English is spoken by almost everyone who lives and works in town.

Hoi An, Vietnam

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Hoi An, also known as Faifo, sits on the coast of the South China Sea in Vietnam. Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, its Ancient Town (from the French Vieille Ville) section is an incredibly well preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port, transporting visitors to another time. The city’s riverfront and marketplaces bustle with activity, but its tropical beaches are calm.

Each month, the town trades its electric lights for traditional lanterns, lighting up the city in a colorful glow. Hoi An also has plenty of pedestrian streets, where residents and visitors can wander around the busy and brightly colored markets.

El Poblado, Medellin, Colombia

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Medellin is the biggest city on the list, and that is reflected by the skyscrapers and glowing lights that sparkle in the hillsides at night. While Medellin struggled with crime and the drug trade in the 1980s, it is significantly safer now, and areas such as El Poblado record very little crime. Medellin was named the Most Innovative City of the Year in March by The Wall Street Journal and Citi, thanks in part to its advancements in public transportation, which include Metrocable, a gondola lift system with several lines, and escalators.

There are beautiful natural parks throughout the countryside, among them nearby Guatape Lake and Parque Arvi Nature Reserve. The trip to Parque Arvi by Metrocable costs just $3, an indication of Medellin’s low cost of living. The city also has five of the best hospitals in Central and South America.

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by Cathy Rose A. Garcia, ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 06/05/2013 7:26 PM | Updated as of 06/06/2013 4:47 PM
A photo of the Makati skyline. Photo courtesy of CBRE Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – A growing number of foreign investors are snapping up residential properties in the Philippines, according to CBRE Philippines chairman Rick Santos.

The reason for the increase in foreign buyers is due to the new laws imposed by Hong Kong and Singapore in order to curb speculation in their property markets.

“New restrictive property tax laws in Hong Kong and Singapore will drive more Asian residential investors to the Philippines,” he said in a press briefing in Makati City on Wednesday.

This year, Hong Kong and Singapore have started imposing higher taxes on properties, with the aim of stamping out speculative foreign investment.

Compared to the two cities, the Philippines is now seen as a more foreign-investor friendly destination.

Santos said the Philippines is “one of the most cost-effective and attractive destinations for real estate investors in Asia.”

The CBRE chairman said some foreigners have recently bought into projects in the Philippines. “Number one, it’s much cheaper than Singapore, also from a tax perspective and cost. And from a financing point of view, it’s much more expensive to get financing there,” he said.

Some have found the Philippines a good place to buy secondary properties. Some have opted to invest in “branded” projects, such as the Fairmont Raffles.

“I think people have been happy with their investments here, especially those who invest in US dollars. And also on a yield perspective, these are some of the highest yields in Asia as well. They’re able to buy into the market. Other places in Asia are too expensive,” Santos said.

“It is exciting. It is early so I think you will see a lot more mainland Chinese money coming in, a lot more Russian money, a lot more Korean money, and also a lot more US money coming in as well. This isn’t a bubble. This is basically a sustainable growth,” he added.

Santos also noted many of the expats in the Philippines are opting to buy properties, instead of just renting here. Foreigners are among the primary market of high-end and luxury developments in the country.

“The luxury residential sector will continue to pick up, with increasing demand from foreign expats. Expats are now moving from renters to buyers,” he said.

Office vacancy rate at all-time low

Santos expressed confidence in the Philippine property market, saying it is one of the hottest in Asia. He noted the recent investment grade ratings given by Fitch and Standard & Poor’s to the Philippines will translate to more investments.

“The recent credit investment upgrades offer opportunities for sustaining growth in the Philippine property market,” he said.

As a sign of investor confidence, CBRE said the office sector has remained strong, with office vacancy rates at an all-time low in the various central business districts in Metro Manila.

Joey Radovan, CBRE vice chairman, said overall average vacancy rates of offices in Metro Manila have dropped to 3.21% in the first quarter, from 3.43% in the fourth quarter of 2012.

He attributed the decline in vacancy rates to the positive economic outlook, cost-effective rental rates and dwindling availability of quality office spaces.

In Makati, the vacancy rate fell to 5.07% in the first quarter as more multinational companies expand.
Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, Muntinlupa and Quezon City have also benefited from the increase in BPO locators.

With the decline in office space vacancy, many building owners are pushing up rents.

Radovan advised building owners to maintain competitive rates to attract more international tenants and retain BPO clients.

“The BPOs are here because of costs. I always remind landlords about why the BPOs are here. Since the economy is so positive, it’s easy to raise the rents in Makati, but again it doesn’t help the BPO industry. But at the same time, landlords will have to capitalize on state of economy. It’s a very sensitive balance,” Radovan said.

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Published: Thursday, 30 May 2013 | 4:26 AM ET
By:  | Writer, CNBC Asia

Dondi Tawatao | Getty Images Southeast Asia’s “rising star”, the Philippines, stunned investors with first quarter growth numbers that outpaced that of even economic powerhouse China.

Bucking the trend of regional weakness – with neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Thailand recently reporting disappointing growth figures – thePhilippines’ economy grew 7.8 percentin the first three months from a year earlier against expectations for a rise of just 6 percent.

In year-on-year terms, the economy expanded at a quicker pace than China for the first time since the latter began publishing quarterly GDP data in 1994, according to ANZ. China’s economy grew 7.7 percent in the January-to-March period as the momentum of the country’s recovery unexpectedly slowed.

“This print is comfortably the fastest first-quarter GDP growth print across the non-Japan Asia,” Michael Wan, economist at Credit Suisse, wrote.

Growth was powered by private consumption, government spending and fixed capital investment, which helped to offset weakness in the export sector.

“It is heartening to note that the quality of growth was also good, in that investment is becoming a much more important driver of growth, in a country where infrastructure spending still lags behind its peers in the region,” Wan said.

Higher investment spending is in turn necessary to support longer term growth in the country, he noted.

And economists expect the economy to remain resilient going forward, supported by increased investment.

“After receiving two investment grade upgrades from major credit rating agencies, we expect private investment to be supported. The recent increase in momentum of foreign direct investments points to investor confidence,” Roland Randall, senior economist, Asia Pacific at ANZ wrote.

(Read MoreS&P Raises Philippines to Investment Grade, Second After Fitch)

In March, Fitch Ratings raised the country’s credit rating to investment grade,with Standard and Poor’s doing the same earlier this month.

ANZ, which currently forecasts the economy will grow 6.2 percent in 2013, said there are now upside risks to its outlook.

Despite the stellar growth numbers, however, Philippines shares closed down 3.8 percent on Thursday.

But, Credit Suisse believes this is a temporary correction that offers a good buying opportunity.

(Read MoreFitch Upgrade of Philippines a ‘Seal of Good Housekeeping’)

“The local equity market is in the process of correcting right now, after an extraordinary run, but our Philippines equity strategist called for this and has argued that it will represent a buying opportunity.”

By CNBC’s Ansuya Harjani

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By  | Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom – Mon, Oct 8, 2012

 

A view of EDSA during the rush hour. (Photo courtesy of Yen Baet)

The Philippines’ recovery from the Asian financial crisis and its high potential for growth has prodded a business website to name it one of the “New Tigers” in Southeast Asia.

The Philippines, as well as Indonesia, have “come of age” and are “poised to drive future growth and grab more economic power,”Market Watch said.

“In an economically vibrant Southeast Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines stand out as the region’s ‘New Tigers’ with the potential to leave a bigger imprint on global growth for years to come while the developed world struggles with excess debt and traditional regional heavyweights China and India lose momentum,”  it added.

This review of the Philippines is the latest in a string of recent positive assessments and forecasts, most of them noting deep-seated governance reforms and its impact on ease of doing business.

The Philippines and Indonesia’s edge over other countries in the region, Market Watch said, include “large and young labor force, an expanding middle class and… elected governments with policies inspiring investor confidence.”

Sturdy banks and enough foreign exchange reserves also put the countries at an advantage, it added.

National debt also remains low in the Philippines and Indonesia compared to countries in the West, “leaving both enough room to boost their economies in case of need,” the report said.

Market Watch also noted that the two countries’ stock markets “are among the world’s best performing since the end of 2008.”

Marking the two countries’ takeoff, Market Watch said, is their leap from borrower to lender status in the International Monetary Fund, with each pledging $1 billion to replenish the multilateral bank’s funds.

This, as Market Watch noted that the IMF bailed out the two countries during the Asian Financial Crisis of the late 1990s.

These developments have not escaped the view of global investors which are now turning their heads toward the Philippines and Indonesia, Market Watch said.

“Both markets have been a popular choice for investors since 2009 and have extended a solid upward run with sharp gains so far this year,” it noted.

Market Watch highlighted the Philippines’ status as second to Thailand’s best-performing stock exchange in Asia so far this year, rising 18 percent. Indonesia’s Stock Exchange meanwhile gained 4 percent.

“Signaling the strength of foreign investor interest in both the Philippines and Indonesia, new products have been developed to provide overseas investors with more options to access those markets,” it noted.

The two countries are not free from risks, however, with Market Watch noting that challenges include “sustaining political stability, tackling widespread corruption and improving their poor infrastructure.”

The Philippines’ heavy dependence on remittances from overseas workers may also prove to its disadvantage amid a weak global environment, the report added.

This, even as it echoed forecasts that the services sector and high remittances will drive economic growht in the Philippines this year.

“To sustain its trajectory, the Philippines needs to not only get more value out of existing industries, but also forge new ones,” Market Watch said.

An expansion in the tourism sector may be the perfect fit, with the report noting that it may “help absorb labor in its swelling population.”

For tourism to takeoff, however, Market Watch said the government must address the issue of poor infrastructure.

Aging roads and inadequate airports choke economic development while also discouraging tourism, the report said.

“The problems are curtailing the growth of what many see as the critical next-wave industry,” it added.

Aside from tourism, mining could also drive growth for the Philippines, Market Watch said.

“The country is rich in minerals including copper, gold and nickel, but development of the mining industry has been stalled by political resistance and layers of red tape,” the report noted.

“Regardless of which industries the Philippines seeks to develop, international backing will be crucial,” Market Watch said.

The world-recognized four Asian Tigers are Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan.

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Foreign investment firm setting up shop in Manila

By 

1:49 am | Monday, September 24th, 2012

The Philippines is one of the current “darlings” of global investors seeking better returns in emerging market economies and offers even bigger potential returns in the future, according to a ranking official of foreign investment firm Religare Capital Markets Ltd.

The company, which specializes in equities investments in India and the Asean region, has decided to set up operations in the country within the year to better take advantage of the nascent Philippine economic boom.

“The Philippines is a market where people want to put money into,” Religare’s global head of equity capital markets John Sturmey said in an interview with the Inquirer. “The story here is certainly better than how it was a few years ago. Everyone is saying good things about the Philippines.”

Religare, which has the bulk of its operations in India, Singapore and Hong Kong, is hoping to tap into the growing demand from the local corporate market for investment banking and equity deals.

The appetite of local corporations for more capital on both the equity and debt sides jibes with the massive amount of liquidity found offshore as central banks in the United States and Europe try to revive their economies with cheap funds, leaving investors awash with cash and few options for better returns in their home markets.

“Investors are looking for places where they can make money,” Sturmey said, pointing out that Philippine companies used to have initial public offerings worth only $60 million. “Now we see $300-400 million deals,” he said.

Religare’s equities head also said that ongoing challenges being faced by China and Hong Kong—the twin darlings of foreign investors over the past decade—also bode well for alternative investment sites like the Philippines.

“Hong Kong and China are offering less opportunities,” he said. “They’re ‘over-banked’ since there are a lot more financial institutions chasing after fewer and fewer deals.” This has made it less attractive for firms like Religare, which would have to contend with thinning profit margins.

At the same time, the China and Hong Kong markets have ongoing difficulties with corporate governance issues, which are encouraging investors to look to other emerging market nations.

Previous to its announcement that it would set up shop locally, Religare has already participated in the initial public offering of Puregold Price Club Inc. late last year as a junior partner of lead underwriter UBS (most of Religare’s senior officials are former UBS bankers). More recently, Religare also initiated research coverage on local IT gaming firm Philweb Corp.

Sturmey said that Religare was particularly interested in the spate of “re-IPOs” being undertaken by local corporations as part of the Philippine Stock Exchange’s thrust to increase the free float of listed companies.

“These re-IPOs present good opportunities to people like ourselves,” he said. “The Philippines has great companies here but they’re trading $10,000 a day [in total value turnover].”

The Religare official expressed confidence in the local market, saying the country was “in the best place it’s been for decades, with a very strong macroeconomy and a solid political situation.”

“It’s always been overlooked for many years, even by the big banks,” Sturmey said. “The bigger question is, whether it’s sustainable.”

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