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About matto_uk

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    UK, Latin America, Asia
  • About Me
    Ethical practice, sustainable development, socially responsible investing, eco-tourism.
  1. Hi, Ulidia, I agree for the most part about access to Palawan islands - El Nido and Linapacan can be hard to get to, and headig south via Puerto is pretty but tiring. Have you been to Busuanga though? This is one of the northermost islands, strikingly attractive, famous for the neighbouring Coron island and the many shipwrecks and dive sites there. The modern new airport was inaugurated earlier this week by the President and you can now fly the bigger planes of Cebu Pacific, PAL Express and others from Manila in less than an hour. The road upgrade from the airport to Coron town is well underway and should be completed for next year. It's already made my regular journey a lot easier than last year when they had only one or two small planes, a dusty runway and even dustier road to the coastline. Busuanga is seeing some exciting yet considered developments and a lot of interest from those who now realise what a mess Boracay is. Eastern Coron is packed with developers right now, and of course Banyan Tree have announed an $80m investment for two resorts there; the Boracay group are pursuing 5+ resort developments, and there is a marina-resort-community under construction along the coast towards Salvacion. Every time I pass there is a new big boat using the deep waters and safe harbour there. The Cacao Pearl island is on the western side of Busuanga, and occupies an island 124 acres in size with a vibrant coral reef, 90% rainforest coverage and several kilometers of spectacular beach. I feel that this is what Palawan is becoming known for - pristine islands and coastline, with low-impact development, a friendly community and good value for money. How long this lasts I can't say, but certainly there is a lot of resistance to the sprawling developments styles seen in Boracay or Luzon, and the high-value tourists who are coming to the island in ever-increasing numbers do not seem to want more golf resorts or concrete condo developments.
  2. True, although those investors were not playing strictly by the rules and have not been 'burned', just investigated. In the Philippines it is not legal for a foreigner (individual/corporation) to own land title, although you can own a building on the land, or a condominium title. For locals, in place of a Torrens-style title, a tax declaration is often used - this gives the person who pays taxes to a plot the rights to survey the land before applying for title; the land technically remains Government-land until a title is issued. Most locals never survey and never apply for a real title - it is a costly and time consuming process; they simply sell on a tax-declaration to a new buyer. Over recent years, many foreign investors have bought and sold these 'tax declared' properties, often with the help of unregulated real estate agents and officials who were willing to turn a blind eye to the mode of acquisition. Recently the Philippines government has attempted to harmonise the investment/acquisution process and stamp out irregularities in the market: a good decision for all legitimate investors. This has meant a review of many land holdings in the country, including the over-developed island of Boracay where many foreign investors have bought tax-declared land and built upon it. Investors who hold legitimate titles or who have applied for the various government leases for foreign-control of government lands are NOT affected. Investors who have bought tax declared lands are affected, as are the officials who enabled the developments. However, it is likely that legitimate investors will be given the opportunity to apply for the correct tenurial instruments although this may be at additional cost. Although Caveat Emptor certainly applies everywhere, it should give investors looking for cheap land, with no interest in complying with all of the regulations, pause for thought. For legitimate developers and investors, this is a sign of maturity in the regulatory market and is the reason why the likes of Banyan Tree, Shangri-La and Raffles are investing in the country.
  3. A quick update to this thread: The Cacao Pearl, Palawan is the world's first non-profit and luxury eco-resort community to commit 100 per cent of operating profits to environmental protection and social improvements. It will be built on the 124 acre private island in the Calamianes archipelago mentioned in this thread, at the northernmost tip of the Palawan Biosphere Reserve in the Philippines. The Cacao Pearl Island, Palawan - official website Barefoot Sophistication - the project information website Awarded the What Green Home "Excellent" kite-mark, placing it into the top 20% of developments worldwide ranked against their sustainable development and ethical credentials. It may not be the best time to be marketing exotic overseas real-estate, yet with 80-240sqm residences priced to sell (starting at $210,000) and resort completition to coincide with the likely economic upswing in 2012, the investment is pragmatic and logical. Thirty-seven residences sold; final release available through Property Frontiers and Claire Brown Realty only.
  4. DrBubb- rather than let your questions hang in there with no answer, I'll address them briefly with a nod towards my earlier posts - this is an old topic that was started by an independent 3rd-party; it's not a way for Barefoot to solicit business or even discuss specific projects. The value prop for customers can range from the financial to the personal, and often different customer groups will respond to more than one aspect at a time. Many guests - the reason why any resort can exist - are obviously attracted to less-developed, more pristine locations due to the lack of crowds, the pioneering spirit, the natural wonders, diving, sailing, Mayan temples. Some people want to vacation in concrete Cancun or Dubai, many do not. Investors in less-developed destinations may find it a higher risk venture - the easier it is to develop in a country, the more likely you are to find over-development and arguably, less attractive returns. So for some customers, the investors in this case, the value prop is higher returns for what they deem to be an acceptable risk. Some may also be attracted to specific things that we offer as a company - like a commitment to sustainable development and eco-aware construction, or our choice of locations, or perhaps our promise of unrestricted owner-use and lower (reasonable) service fees. The rising airfares and recession questions are two which I think everyone is discussing right now! Certainly it is likely to make off-plan options more competitive in some markets, and many tourist destinations (especially at the lower end) will quite possibly see a large reduction in numbers. Re-selling is likely to be harder if credit is unavailable. The trend for overseas travel and home purchasing abroad still seems to be a positive one though, and in Asia (where we have one active project and one project planned) there is an increasing demand for smart property investments and no conclusive signs of a recession, although this could be largely masked by the Olympic and China's growth. Having said that, Australia is seeing a commodities boom at the moment and is therefore feeling a lot more optimistic than perhaps the US is right now. Personally I feel very bullish about growth opportunities in Asia and the potential for increasing tourism, especially in the mid-luxury and eco-tourism sector.
  5. Prophet or Prophet1, if you are a genuine "very established Development and Investment Company with a successful (SIC), motivated, professional management Team", please feel free to contact us directly or post your own contact details, website & project profiles here. After all, you are suggesting we are remiss by not "showing you ours", therefore I am confident you would not object to returning the favour for the benefit of all readers. The aim of my posting on this forum was initially to respond to some general questions about our Palawan project after an independent party posted information. It wasn't our idea, we are not soliciting funds online, nor are we promoting any particular project herein - and we won't in future either. I've already stated that in earlier posts. It is not our intention to have a detailed discussion about any specific project, especially not with an anonymous poster who has only contributed twice, only on our postings, and who seems to have a commercial/competing interest rather than a personal one…. This is not defensive, this is logical from my point of view. For the record, we may post general updates on our business on this discussion thread (and others) as long as it adds to the thread and isn't a purely promotional post; also, as long as it doesn't impact on the privacy of our investors, nor on the activities of our project teams. We are in business after all, and the development business is competitive. We will also (as individuals) continue to use web forums as a way to talk about investment areas we know something about, or are interested in - but never as a way to promote our business, just as a way to discuss interesting topics with like minds. My final note has really got to be this: 1. Any 3rd-party or investor who works with us receives full-disclosure, personal contact with the entire management team and a down-to-earth approach to communications BEFORE they commit. For our agents, and professional partners such as Ernst & Young and HSBC, we are compelled to do this - as an ethical business, we are happy to comply. 2. Investors have right of site access throughout the project life-cycle (and many of them have taken us up on that offer). 3. Any investment project overseas, especially in developing markets, will come with risk. To-date, none of the risks we have faced have been insurmountable, and none of our projects have fatal flaws. As one poster mentions above - countries such as Belize are not suited to everyone. The poster above you feels they have better opportunities elsewhere, and we feel that Belize has abundant attractions to encourage tourism growth and is slowly improving many of the conditions required for stable investment. It depends on your investment profile, attitude to risk, and knowledge of the specific market - you are a bear, we are more bullish about some places. 4. If you don't know the answers to some of your questions, without being unfair, it's simply because whoever you are, you are not in the loop. We are not looking for a "very established Development and Investment Company with a successful (SIC)" and neither are we attempting to solicit investors via this post. I'm pretty sure that the readers of this board know zero about you, your business, your projects or your investors - why would we? 5. If your intention is to post a general critique of our business or our projects, then you are free to share your opinion regardless of whether we agree or not. Most readers on here would assume that you have direct and provable expertise/experience to support your claims, and are not merely attempting to smear one company whilst your own "Development and Investment Company" is working on a competing project; and on behalf of our business (and the website T&Cs), I would expect any opinion you publish to be true, provable, reasonable and not defamatory.
  6. Prophet, let me try and respond to your post as best I can. However, as you are new to this site and have only posted two items (both related to this topic), I hope that I'm not responding to someone who has an ulterior motive to begin with. Your first comments focus on the success (or not) of our project in BZ. It's no secret that our development, and others, have been impacted by a public enquiry in to land sales within Belize. This is an activity which we wholly support - although it is frustrating! Developers and officials who are able to avoid compliance or gain unfair benefits distort the market and make it harder for legitimate operators like us to succeed, and harder for buyers/sellers to have confidence in the country. Fortunately, that government activity is drawing to a close and the results should benefit anyone with property in BZ and those who have avoided the country until now due to the issues with purchase security and reliable planning systems. You can read the latest information from the country's main news website here (May 23, 2008) : Channel 5 news article You will see one of the main points is: "It was pointed out by Lands Commissioner Noreen Fairweather that in all but the most egregious cases, the aim is to cure the defects and complete the intended transactions." and further, that, "...the investigation of the extent and magnitude of irregularities in the Land Registry and National Estate sections that occurred in the months leading up to February 2008 should be completed by the end of this month". The status of our project is favourable but you can't expect me to publish a private general update to an anonymous poster can you? Perhaps you can contact us in person if you feel that you have a right to know the answer to a specific question. Otherwise you could be anyone. -- You also made a comment about us moving on to another project in the Philippines. That is true (and the topic of this post), and I hope is seen as a positive activity by all of our investors, partners and employees. We have several projects planned for the next 12 months and believe that any company worth it's salt should be able to maintain momentum even if it faces hurdles that are outside of it's control. Having other active projects does not mean we spend any less time on an earlier project, quite the opposite: it ensures that the business can retain staff, continue lobbying and wield more weight when dealing with government officials who are desperately seeking inward investment from growth companies such as ours. For the record, we share many investors across all of our projects, and continue to receive support for future projects. We never accept investors who are not sophisticated nor unable to weather the storms of property development in emerging economies. There are many opportunities closer to home for the risk-averse - although even markets on our doorstep, Spain for example, have an endless string of scandals, and problems. For us, we love countries like BZ because of the many attractions, and the potential for growth and rental yields due to the significant eco-tourism market. Yes there are risks as I've covered above - yet if an investor understands the risks, agrees to seek above-average returns, and has a management company who is doing everything in it's power to protect their investment - what more could you ask for? -- Penultimately, you refer to our address in the UK being merely an accommodation address: I'm not sure where this information comes from or why it is relevant? Our contact information is comprehensively available on our website (new one to launch shortly) and all investors and partners have access to a wide variety of contact information, for the UK, the US, BZ and Asia. We even issue copies of the managers' passports and home address. Again, this information is available to all of those who need it - general contact information is available on our website. -- Finally, we are not asking for 1.5m+ - this is a very old post which no longer applies (and was never our doing to start with). We reply as a courtesy to new readers only, not as a way to solicit investors or keep the general public up-to-speed with our adventures in eco-tourism and sustainable development. Best.
  7. ** QUICK UPDATE ** As we still get a few visitors to our website from this thread, I thought an update and a photo might be of use to new comers. Barefoot Investments have successfully concluded the first phase of this project and will be releasing a number of chic eco-residences through our two UK agents Q3 of this year (you can pre-register on our site, or via our page on the Move Channel). The property we acquired (as per the promises made) is simply stunning - 124 acres of lush rainforest, fringed with sandy coves, dramatic cliffs and caves, a huge crescent shaped beach and some of the most spectacular marine life you can find - Dolphins, corals, Manatees and Whale Sharks to name a few. Seed investors now have their initial capital secured by a very saleable asset. Some are even braving the elements (warm sea water and an ever-present sun) to see the development in person. My thanks to all of those who expressed support for our ecologically and socially responsible investment; our resort management company, Cacao Resorts will I am sure, look forward to welcoming you to Palawan's pre-eminent eco-resort in 2010. Later this year, we will release a new early-stage opportunity, although I admit that we will be a little stricter in how the offer information is shared with potential investors (sorry board!). You can always visit our site (new version due for launch in April) and register your interest or comments there. Matt (credit: C. Morrison http://private-islands.blogspot.com/)
  8. Thanks for the continued interest in the our venture. We are due to close this one in a week or so and forums such as this do help us refine our offer for future investments. A couple of things that may be interesting to posters: - About escrow accounts: we looked long and hard at escrow for this offer; since the deal is really a private equity investment (with a property investment approach), the capital is put to good use immediately and it's not usual for shares to be paid via escrow (since you get what you pay for immediately). Besides, with a project that moves as fast as this, as soon as the funds are in escrow, they would be drawn upon to improve the asset and move the project along. Also, the fees for escrow are pretty high for a lean programme such as ours - I admit we could offer investors the choice for an additional fee, but since many of them were not too worried, we decided to have one offer for all and ditch escrow in favour of quick activity and transparency. For the discounted off-plan releases later in the year, you can expect the usual escrow and staged-payments used elsewhere - it's standard practice for the agents we work with. We use HSBC and Price Waterhouse Coopers for advising on structures and appropriate facilities during the early-stage (which we manage directly). - About property design: we do have full architectural drawings and specifications for 30 variations on a single property design. However, the final configuration is subject to our final master plan. That is the main reason we have held back from being very specific about the ready to rent accommodation that comes with each investment. Also, the investment should be judged on the potential returns, this includes ownership of a class of property, but not a specific property. In hindsight, we perhaps should be selling the designs and configurations a lot harder, but we really expected most investors to buy-in and then put the property on the market at a later stage. In that scenario, the property type isn't as important as our assumption on the re-sale price. - About global warming: We only have to look at what is happening in the Maldives to see the effects rising see levels (and poor construction methods) will have in the near term. We chose Palawan simply because it has such mature islands - tops of volcanoes, lush forest and a 90% intact coral reef. We spent 2 years looking at Honduras and Belize before and simply couldn't reconcile a few things: prices (inflated), land type (low level sandbanks) and development issues (mangrove clearing, dredging to build beaches). Fortunately, the Philippines rolled out some interesting incentives for eco-developers plus we had been working on a way to buy property legitimately and securely in Asia - the timing was good. These island will be some of the last ones standing without a doubt (East Anglia will go first!). As for the other comments about risk - I can 100% say that this is not a scam. If it was I think we would probably want to add a few 000's to the budget to enable us to escape the wrath of quite a few of our close contacts! Besides, you would know where to find us. In all seriousness though, for this project and others, we always recommend seeking advice and we will continue to be open and approachable as a team. More than that we cannot do. Later projects may be structured differently - we take our cues from investors when planning them - but the more formal and protected the structure, the more expensive and immobile the project (usually). We believe that we have struck a good balance that enables us to move fast, retain flexibility (required in emerging locations) and still offer a robust operating structure that investors can relate to. Keep in mind, our approach is based on our own desires as investors - to create deals rather than wait for them to come along, and to get involved at the earliest possible stage, rather than at the usual off-plan stage. Even for those who have not been comfortable with the risk involved in the early-stage, there will still be opportunities to get involved. Later in the year through a few reputable agents, we will offer "pre-planning discounted off-plan" (mouthful!) and retail off-plan sales will be released next year. Both are priced under market value in order to ensure quick occupancy. Why? The sooner we sell-out, the sooner investors can exit and the resort can operate without the disruption of building.
  9. Hi, board - First things first - I'm a member of the Barefoot Investment team. We have had a few enquiries that quoted this messageboard, so it feels only right to come and have a look. A cautious thanks to Joel for spreading the word in this way... Some of the comments have been very interesting - if only we could get the entire island of Palawan for $1.5m! There are roughly 1,000 islands in that region, beautiful, mature and some large, some the size of a football pitch. Most are untitled and not appropriate for us, some are titled but with question marks, the rest have been our focus over the past year. For an intrepid company with time and resources, Palawan is an incredible choice - new airports coming online, developer incentives for eco-tourism, superb workforce and some of the most stunning natural views that you can find. That's why we are there. Although we make our money from developing property, we invest it and share it quite differently to other developers that we know. If people are bored of hearing us go on about the business, we stop at 'eco-developer', if they have more interest, we describe ourselves as a blend of ethical management, socially responsible investment and sustainable development. As with Belize (and other areas of interest), our resort community developments are funded, developed and managed with creativity and a bit of innovation that we put to work for investors, the community, our business and future resort guests. The comments about development costs are spot on - it would be VERY hard for a traditional development company to do much with the funds we raise from private investors, but then, our overheads are largely stripped from each project and we bring plenty of resources to the table that are not charged to a specific venture. What you are left with then, is capital that goes to improving the asset(s), not paying us consulting fees for example. Besides, we take ALL of our own rewards on the back end, after investors are satisfied and the venture is stable. There is a lot of homework and due diligence in a project such as this and we work with good people to make it happen (HSBC and PWC for example). Another difference between us and others (as far as I know!), is that our projects are designed with investors at the outset - the rewards, the timeframes, the locations; these are all a collaboration. It makes sense to us - investors like us are looking for certain types of deals and as people, we enjoy certain types of projects over others. As a company, we try and bring this together and customise a project that works for us all financially and in terms of personal interest - then, we spread the word and bring in some other like minds. It's not rocket science and it is a bit more fun that our funds usually bring (unless you are a geek about managed funds, anyone?). Dogbox, your comment "I dont like the fact one director lives in N Ireland..." is valid enough (although Northern Ireland is a great place to live and own property, plus the nature of our business requires globe-trotting...). Many investors are risk-averse and keep investments local - others like to take advantage of legitimate tax efficient vehicles for their overseas investments. For this project, that was one of the criteria from the outset. Also, there are no restrictions on the advisors/lawyers that our members use - we have a very transparent structure and have always encouraged interested parties to seek advice (in fact, we have got a few new members from advisors in the past). Nevis is a reputable jurisdiction and it allows investors to take control over their reporting and tax according to UK practice (or the US for our US members), rather than be saddled with unfamiliar regulations. There is no liability attached to an investor in a Nevis company, just to the management team - so it's also better than forming a local limited company in many situations. If you have any questions, comments or criticisms do get in touch - we can't answer detailed questions about a specific investment on here but we're a friendly bunch and workaholics too. We'll also be releasing the more traditional discounted off-plans sales later in the year through some of the UK's best property investment specialists. Best, Matt PS We have interested parties for a few projects in other regions - if you'd like to be involved in a custom project for 2008, take a look at the site and register your interest if any of the countries appeal to you... www.barefootinvestments.com PPS Rondy made a comment about a project in Belize - I can't respond to that as I think he is mixing us up with someone else (there are a lot of "Barefoot's" in tropical areas which is why our actual projects are never called Barefoot. He is also thinking of eco as a socks & sandals type of environment; More Sandals or Six Senses actually, but then its a new market and some people still think organic, oil alternatives, fair trade and climate change is for treehuggers only.
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