“Go head-to-head and toe-to-toe against the biggest and oldest company in the business.”
This year, Manuel B. Villar Jr. did two extraordinary things.
One, he repurposed his flagship Vista Land and Lifescapes property company and made a strategic shift, away from mass housing, of which he has built more than 400,000 units, into what he calls estates.
Villar will now go head-to-head and toe-to-toe against the biggest and oldest company in the business, the once invincible 188-year-old Ayala conglomerate, in the premium and upscale segment of the property market.
Not that the soft-spoken ever smiling Manny Villar will be the new Ayala. He is the new Villar.
Manny is already the richest Filipino individual with an estimated net worth of $9 billion.
Two, three members of Manny Villar’s family now hold very powerful positions in public service.
Wife Cynthia Aguilar Villar, is a senator and is vying to be the next Senate president.
A son, Mark Villar, has just been elected senator. With his sterling record of having spent nearly P5 trillion in infra Duterte’s Build, Build, Build which created unprecedented 6.5 million jobs, Mark, the Builder, is a good bet for a higher office in 2028. Mark finished economics from Wharton and his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Villar’s only daughter, Camille, has been reelected with an edifying 61 percent of the vote in her dad’s former lone congressional district in Las Piñas City, south of Manila.
Mark Villar’s wife, lawyer Emmeline Aglipay Villar, has served as justice undersecretary of the outgoing Duterte administration. Villar’s other son, Manuel Paolo Villar III, also Wharton-educated, is the president and CEO of Vista Land.
Manny is a veritable come-from-behind success story. His father was a lowly government bureaucrat; his mother a fish vendor. He was born in Manila’s Tondo poor man’s district and as a boy of six used to help his mother selling fish. He managed to earn a business degree from the state University of the Philippines in 1970 and an MBA in 1973.
He took on odd jobs as an accountant, an analyst, gravel and sand delivery boy, before striking gold in mass housing.
From business, Manny made his foray into politics. He became congressman of his suburban home town, Las Piñas, from 1992-1988 and when it became a city, from 1998 to 2001. Then he ran for senator, serving from 2001 to 2013.
Villar is the first Filipino since the war to have been both speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate president. He ran for president in 2010 but lost. He recouped his campaign expenses with capital gains from his stock market IPO within six months from losing.
Part of Manny Villar’s quiet charisma is a personality that is warm, engaging, and not at all intimidating, despite his formidable gravitas of power and wealth.
Vista Estates are Vista Land’s mixed-use development of prime master-planned communities to provide life and lifestyle to the middle and upper income classes.
“Our mission is to uplift the lives of Filipinos by building unique, premium, sustainable, and amazing lifescapes that provide them with limitless growth opportunities,” gushes the website of Vista Estates. “We build modern-day cities that are inspiring in vision, compelling in creativity, and grand in diversity. Days in Vista Estates can be all business, all fun and relaxation, and all points in between.”
Villar is planning three initial public offerings (IPOs) this year. These are: VistaREIT (VREIT), The Coffee Project, and small power utility Siquijor Island Power Corp. (SIPCor).
VistaREIT is offering up to 3.33 billion firm shares and up to 333.75 million over-allotment option shares at a price of up to P2.50 per share. The final offer price will be determined on May 25, 2022 after the company conducts its book building process. Based on 3.66 million shares and at P2.50 per share, VistaREIT is expected to raise P9 billion for the Villar group.
VistaREIT firm is set to be the flagship office and mall REIT of Vista Land and aims to be among the leading diversified commercial REITs in the Philippines in terms of portfolio, profitability, growth, sustainability, and dividend yield.
VREIT will have an initial portfolio of 10 community malls and two PEZA-registered office buildings with an aggregate gross leasable area (GLA) of 256,404 sqm.
Next in line will be Villar’s small power utilities group (SPUG) SIPCor which has two small power plants in Siquijor and Camotes islands in the Visayas with an existing capacity of 15 megawatts.
“I’m optimistic coming in this 2022 and with the optimism, you’ll see a shift, a totally different Vista Land,” Villar promises.
Vista Land’s extensive 3,000-ha. landbank is in areas close to major business hubs with 57 percent located within Mega Manila.
By building on the fringes, Vista Estates is re-shaping the landscape across the country with cutting-edge megalopolises. As part of the conglomerate with the widest geographic reach, Vista Estates follows suit.
“The current 44 estates sprawl across our islands with 13 in Mega Manila, 13in Luzon, eight in the Visayas, and ten in Mindanao. More Vista Estates are on the verge of rising,” Villar says.
Vista Estates are a collection of cities-within-cities infused with themes and offerings inspired by the best-loved places in the world and designed to re-create global living and lifestyles.