Ayala Land, a major Philippine property developer, is beating a path to Hong Kong to sell its projects, despite the soured relationship that exists between the city and the Philippines.
The developer has opened an office in Central as part of an expansion drive into international markets that began several years ago. It plans to launch residential projects for sale to Hong Kong buyers this year.
Tom Mirasol, president of Ayala Land International Sales, said the expansion aimed to tap demand in Hong Kong for offshore property investments. Investor appetite for such deals had been on the rise since the Hong Kong government introduced successive measures to cool off the city's home prices, he said.
Ayala's projects have also been well received in Singapore, encouraging it to open an office in Hong Kong. "When we opened up in the Singapore market in September last year we were quite surprised by the level of interest from Singaporean nationals," he said.
"We think we will find a similar situation in Hong Kong."
Ayala has embarked on a three-year plan to establish 10 offshore offices. Its Hong Kong office is the sixth and will allow the developer to serve both the Hong Kong and South China market, said Mirasol.
It will target Hong Kong's high-net-worth individuals by launching luxury condominiums and villas. Ayala will also aim to attract Filipinos working in Hong Kong who seek to buy property at home as clients.
The developer was not concerned about the current strained relationship between Hong Kong and the Philippines. While it was difficult to ignore, the situation was more "government to government", said Mirasol, and ordinary people in the two countries were not affected by it.
Relations between Hong Kong and the Philippines have been strained since a hostage drama in Manila in 2010 resulted in seven Hong Kong tourists and their guide being killed in a bungled rescue attempt.
While the Philippine government expressed regret at the incident it has not officially apologised. Because no apology has been received Hong Kong has embarked on the first phase of sanctions threatened last year, and from February 5 Philippine officials and holders of official Philippine government passports will no longer be allowed to visit the city without visas.
Mirasol said Ayala was focused on selling the attractions of the Manila marketplace, which was ranked among the top real estate investment markets in Asia for 2014, according to a survey by the Urban Land Institute and PwC released at the end of last year. Overseas sales accounted for 20 to 21 per cent of Ayala's total sales last year.
"We hope to increase that to 30 per cent," Mirasol said.