Lee first learned how to make money through the lumberyard business his family ran in Sampaloc, Manila. He earned commissions from chatting with shop owners in their neighborhood and fathers of his classmates who were businessmen, and matched the needs of buyers and sellers among them.
With previous exposure to the import of construction-related materials, Lee decided to join the real estate bandwagon in 1992. He acquired market intelligence by paying attention to those left out by mainstream property developers.
Lee's first project, a subdivision called Santa Barbara Villas I in San Mateo Rizal in 1994, targeted employees hired in his family's business. The ₱150,000-worth two-room units were made affordable through the homebuyer's access to a Pag-IBIG loan. However, the 1997–98 financial crisis stalled him from building on the success of his first real estate venture.
Lee sorted out the unsettled payables after the said crisis. By 2000, Lee returned to business and targeted largely niche clients like the police force, soldiers, and teachers. He also targeted Overseas Filipino Workers and office workers who would want a condo unit in Metro Manila with an easy access to the MRT rail network in the metropolis.
In 2002, Lee founded Filmal Realty Corp. with Malaysian partners and developed units for less than ₱1 million. They targeted the low- and middle-class markets.
In an interview with the Inquirer in 2007, Lee admitted that he has not made any single study on his projects but instead relied more on gut feel and on knowing the needs of his customers. An affordable housing product which addresses the cultural needs of a community is at the core of his business model. His township project, Xevera in Pampanga, has top-of-the-line structures like a school, a church, a town hall, a wet and dry market, a clubhouse with an Olympic-sized swimming pool, commercial areas, an amusement park, and a 3-hectare eco-park.
In an interview with the Philippine Star, Lee said that he named his company Global because they want to be global in thinking and standards of quality while being proud of being Asian. Globe Asiatique's portfolio included the Xevera brand of township communities in Pampanga. Using the concept of Xevera and other permutations of similar affordable housing projects, communities have also been constructed in Mindoro, Visayas, Valenzuela, and Binangonan, Rizal. High-rise condominiums were also constructed in Mandaluyong and Quezon City.
Lee's son Dexter is the company's vice president for finance and executive vice president. Lee's daughter Divine is the company's president for international sales and marketing.
Lee has been described as media-savvy, and is bold and innovative in his marketing approach. Globe Asiatique and Filmal have been major sponsors of shows of different TV networks; they have given away house and lot packages as prizes.
Lee's business has been fueled mainly by the availability of financing—both for the developers and homebuyers, which were both addressed by Pag-IBIG. However, the company required access to more capital because of its aggressive expansion plans.
As GA's credit lines with local banks were used up, it planned to proceed with the Initial Public Offering (IPO). The IPO, which was scheduled for late 2010, was supposed to bring in about ₱3.3 billion.
The IPO plan was shelved as a problem with Pag-IBIG broke out. The Court of Appeals (CA) noted that Pag-IBIG was defrauded of billions of pesos—it was alleged that GA had “fictitious housing borrowers.” Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez created a task force which conducted an investigation on the alleged fradaulent use of Pag-IBIG loans for Globe Asiatique's housing projects in Pampanga. It was reported that Pag-IBIG released hefty amounts to applicants who are not Pag-IBIG members.
GA claimed that it withdrew its IPO application with the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) because of “weak global market conditions.” It was reported, however, that its underwriter, BDO Capital and Investment Corp., decided to quit.
Delfin and Dexter Lee remain at large despite the outstanding warrants for their arrest issued by the RTC of Pampanga where the syndicated estafa against them is pending.
- Rimando, Lala and Chavez, Leilani.“Who is Delfin Lee?”.ABSCBNnews.com.(Accessed on 31 May 2013).
- “Delfin S. Lee”.Bloomberg Businessweek.(Accessed on 31 May 2013).
- “Globe Asiatique withdraws IPO after underwriter quits”.ABSCBNnews.com.(Accessed on 31 May 2013).
- Navales, Reynaldo G.“Court issues TRO vs Globe Asiatique”.Sun Star Pampanga.(Accessed on 31 May 2013).