UP eyes renegotiation of Ayala Land deal for Technohub

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 22 2020 03:34 PM | Updated as of Jan 22 2020 06:41 PM

Ayala Corp President and COO Fernando Zobel De Ayala and Chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala speak to stockholders in this file photo. The Duterte government is scrutinizing government contracts with the group's water and land units. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA -- The University of the Philippines is willing to renegotiate its lease agreement with Ayala Land Inc to develop its Technohub property, a school official said Wednesday, insisting that administrators did not see the deal as disadvantageous when it was completed in 2006.

The deal, which turned UP’s 37-hectare property in Quezon City into a bustling commercial and call center hub, is under scrutiny by Malacañang, which also cracked down on water concessionaire Manila Water, an Ayala Corp subsidiary.

Citing something he had “read on the internet,” palace spokesman Salvador Panelo claimed the state university was getting only P20 per square meter in monthly lease.

The amount was in fact P171 per sqm, ALI said in a statement while welcoming a “transparent review and assessment of our partnership with UP.”

Asked if the 2006 deal was disadvantageous to UP, its vice president for public affairs, Elena Pernia, said: “At that time, no. At that time, we saw it as earning something from a resource that we owned.”

Pernia recalled that it was UP that sought investors to develop the property since the university did not have resources for it.

Ayala Land stepped in after 2 failed biddings and the proposal went through a long process all the way up to the board of regents, she said.

“It wasn’t as if Ayala gave a proposal and it was considered right away,” she told ABS-CBN News.

“Yun ang pinag-agreehan. Alam mo naman at that time, you need investors to come in.”

(That was the agreement. You know, at that time, you need investors to come in.)

BENEFICIAL

Under the deal, UP will receive a total of P10.23 billion during the 25-year lease, according to Ayala Land.

Lease payments amounted to P1.1 billion from 2008 to 2018, and stand at P3.13 billion from 2019 to 2033. Ownership of the buildings, constructed at P6 billion, will also be turned over to UP at the end of the lease contract, it said.

“We believe this development has been fruitful and beneficial for UP, ALI and the community,” the developer said in a statement.

Pernia said the state university would “fully cooperate” in the planned investigation by Malacañang into the agreement.

"Yes, we welcome any investigation and yes, we look forward to a renegotiation,” she said.

“If the situation were profitable, then the university will of course welcome it... if government looks at this contact, well, we might benefit from it.”