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Biz Buzz: Trader absconds

/ 01:01 AM January 21, 2013

One would think that, after all the financial malfeasance that has happened these last few years, people would have wisened up to scammers by now.

But there really is a fool born every minute, it seems … or in this case, a wily banker who exploited the trust bestowed on her (yes, her) by a client.

Biz Buzz sources revealed that a mid-sized universal bank recently experienced a mini-crisis of sorts when one of its traders absconded with her client’s money. Supposedly, the longtime client of the bank had grown so comfortable (and happy, we assume) with the financial institution—and the attentive service of the trader—that full control of the investments were signed over to her (to be invested at the discretion of the trader, we’re told).


As has been the case in previous scams, the money proved too much of a temptation for the trader, who soon turned rogue … and ran away with the money. The damage? A cool $1 million, according to our banking sources (although some believe that the amount was only the tip of the iceberg).

Which bank? Here’s a clue: One of its biggest branches along Ayala Ave. in Makati is located in a building named for another bank. And its image model is a popular actress.—Daxim L. Lucas


New Zest Air investor, Zest-O IPO

Busy as a bee is Chinoy businessman Alfredo Yao, who is in the thick of discussions with prospective investors for Zest-Air Corp. and working on the stock market listing of thrift bank unit Philippine Business Bank. Soon, another IPO from his group will be in the pipeline.

“I don’t mind giving up majority,” Yao said, when asked about Zest-Air, which was earlier reported to be in talks with prospective investors like AirAsia, Hainan Airlines and even Cebu Pacific Airways. For Yao, as long as it would unlock greater value, he would welcome a new strategic partner. He suggested this could happen soon.

With rising domestic air traffic and foreign arrivals, Yao said the environment was ripe to bring in a new investor. An earlier CIMB research earlier said the local airline industry was headed for tough times within the next three to five years as oversupply is building up while yields are falling amid cutthroat competition and some structural constraints.

Meanwhile, with PBB’s initial public offering now all set for February, Yao has started the groundwork to bring his crown jewel public. We’re of course referring to Zest-O Corp., one of the country’s biggest food and beverage firms. Yao said preparations were underway for the IPO of Zest-O, 25 to 30 percent of which he’s willing to sell to the public.—Doris C. Dumlao


‘Sin tax’ bites

The inevitable has happened. The country’s largest brewer, San Miguel Brewery Inc., has sent notice to its dealers that prices for its beer products will increase starting Feb. 1, a month after the Sin Tax Reform Law took full effect.

In the letter, SMB said that the price adjustment was being made to address the substantial increase in excise taxes that the new law requires. SMB added that the price increase was inevitable and that they had no choice but to resort to the measure in order to maintain the business’ viability.

Sorry, guys. Partying just became a little more expensive.—Daxim L. Lucas

Former Jai-Alai property up for bid

A piece of real estate history is now up for grabs as the Government Service Insurance System is inviting offers to buy through sealed bids the 6,470-square-meter property at the corner of T.M. Kalaw and Taft Ave. where the Jai-Alai building—which was one of the finest Art Deco buildings in Asia—used to stand.

The former Jai-Alai property was listed among the acquired assets of the government pension fund that will be sold through bidding. The minimum bid price for the former Jai Alai property was set at P455.361 million.

GSIS said in a notice for bidding that the disposal was on an “as is where is” basis and that the government would accept only cash for the property. A pre-bid conference has been set for Feb. 4, 2013.—Tina Arceo-Dumlao

Clark direct

Passenger traffic at the Clark International Airport is expected to increase further with the launching of the Trinoma-Clark Airport Lounge last week, thus improving transport links between Clark and Metro Manila.

Under the new system, the Trinoma-Clark Airport Lounge will provide dedicated buses that will directly ply the Clark airport-Manila route on a 24-hour basis.

CIAC president and CEO Victor Jose Luciano said the facility offers a first-class bus service for people heading to (or arriving from) Clark for a fare of only P200 per passenger. Four bus firms will provide the transportation namely: Philtranco, Genesis, Victory Liner and Five Star.

“The Clark Airport Lounge is fully furnished located at the Trinoma Mall which is open 24/7 and passengers would have a taste of the first class amenities of the lounge,” Luciano said.—Daxim L. Lucas

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TAGS: Air Transport, beer prices, Clark International Airport, Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), initial public offering (IPO), Jai Alai, Philippine Business Bank, Philippines, property, Road Transport, San Miguel Brewery Inc., scam, sin taxes, Trinoma-Clark Airport Lounge, universal bank, Zest-Air Corp.
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