By: Richmond S. Mercurio
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Starmalls Inc., the shopping center unit of the Villar family, is preparing to raise fresh funds through a follow on offering next year as it embarks on an aggressive three-year expansion program.

Starmalls is looking to invest up to P26 billion over the next three years to bring its shopping centers to 31 by the end of 2017 from its current portfolio of 13.

In an interview, Starmalls chairman Manuel B. Villar said the listed company intends to conduct a follow on offering next year to fund its expansion plan.

"So we will be raising some cash. We haven't discussed the details yet, but we're really preparing for an offering for Starmalls next year," he said.

Villar said Starmalls would open three new branches this year in Taguig, Bataan, and Sta. Rosa to end the year with 18 malls.

Next year, Villar said the firm would put up five malls which would include maiden branches outside Luzon. The malls would be opened in the cities of Cebu and Iloilo.

Another five to eight shopping centers, meanwhile, are being planned by 2017, Villar said.

Villar added the firm is not focusing simply on the number of malls it would build, but on the size of each mall as well.

He said upcoming Starmalls would have from 50,000 to 60,000 square meters of leasable space.

Starmalls plans to raise the level of the Filipino mall experience by building bigger quality malls with a more dynamic tenant mix, themed interiors with wider retail and service offerings.

Villar said Starmalls' growth complements the expansion of the group's retail ventures which includes All Home construction supply and home furnishings store, All Day convenience stores, and a new supermarket chain.

Starmalls' long term vision is to venture in community malls and create regional super centers across the Philippines through its extensive expansion program.