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Biz Buzz: Reunion with Bill Gates

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It was not part of his tight schedule during his trip to Davos but (WEF) newbie P-Noy had a brief encounter with the iconic Bill Gates coming out of a meeting with WEF founder and executive chair Klaus Schwab. Emerging from the meeting with Schwab, it so happened that Gates was the next person in line so the two were able to exchange pleasantries and pose for photos. The chance encounter with Gates—a long-time WEF backer and regular Davos attendee—took about three minutes.

P-Noy later on told the visiting Philippine media that it was not his first time to meet the Microsoft founder. When President Estrada was still the country’s CEO, P-Noy (then a congressman representing the second district of Tarlac) was part of a Philippine team that visited Gates in Seattle. From this chance reunion in the wintry European skiing hub, the President got the impression that Gates was “a lot warmer this time around” compared to when they first met in 1999.

P-Noy theorized that Gates was “warmer” now because he’s now 100-percent devoted to philanthropy (via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) and no longer too hands-on with Microsoft. In 2006, Gates gave up full-time work at Microsoft and shifted to part-time work as non-executive chair in order to focus on the foundation.

During his three-minute reunion with Gates, P-Noy was able to relay his gratitude for the statement attributed to Gate’s wife, Melinda, in support of the legislation on the Responsible Parenthood Law.—Doris C.Dumlao

WEF in the Philippines

Hosting the World Economic Forum on East Asia in the Philippines in 2014 is a dream come true for Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, who has long wanted to bring to local shores WEF’s regional summit, especially after the Department of Finance spearheaded the successful hosting of the Asian Development Bank annual meetings in Manila last year.

It could also warm up the Philippines ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, which the country will host in 2015. Note that 2014 will only be a year ahead of the targeted creation of a unified Asean market. So while the regional summit convenes only about half the size of the attendees in Davos, it is expected to be just as interesting to the global investor community. Asia, after all, is the new “center” of the world.

This year, it’s Myanmar’s turn to host the WEF East Asia summit. Last year, Thailand was the host and the regional forum’s rock star then was Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar. It was the democracy advocate’s first time to go on an overseas trip in more than two decades and thus created a lot of buzz during the summit.—Doris C. Dumlao

Timesharing, car-sharing

Timesharing was originally conceived for the vacation market where multiple individuals owned the rights to use deluxe hotel suites or resort villas for a limited period every year. This concept has since been adopted for private yachts and jets to allow rich (but not filthy rich) people to enjoy these luxury items at a fraction of the cost of owning and maintaining them.

Last year, a group of Filipino businessmen in their mid-30s and 40s decided to launch a timesharing plan for super-cars to tap into their inner Jay Leno or Ramon Ang. But unlike the timeshare concept for super-cars abroad (where individuals have to pony up at least $35,000 a year to drive 150-mile-per-hour exotic cars for 40 days), the ultra-exclusive local group has only five members splitting the sticker price among themselves.

Their goal is to buy five, brand-new super-cars (timeshare clubs abroad buy their super-cars second-hand since they cost a third less once they are driven out of the showrooms) so one member can drive one every day.

The group already has four super-cars in its portfolio—an Audi R8, a Maserati Granturismo, a Porsche 911 Turbo and a Mercedes SLS gullwing—and is just waiting for a Ferrari Spider 458 to complete its dream fleet, which could rival Tony “Iron Man” Stark’s garage.—Gil Cabacungan

Rolls Royce coming

Lucio “Bong” Tan Jr. has reportedly provided the “angel fund” to help his buddies clinch the local distribution rights to Rolls Royce, the modern stagecoach of kings, dictators and rock icons.

A source said that the Auto Hub group, owned by Tan’s friends Willie Tee-Ten and Michael Cua, has secured the rights to bring the Rolls Royce brand in the Philippines. Auto Hub currently operates several car showrooms in the country (Hyundai, Nissan, Ford and Mazda) and is the local distributor of the Piaggio and Mini Cooper.

The source said that the snooty managers at Rolls Royce’ West Sussex, England, factory were swayed by Tan’s “unequivocal” commitment to back up Auto Hub’s proposal to bring the iconic luxury brand to Manila.

With its imminent entry, Rolls Royce will be the fifth ultra-luxury car brand to establish a local showroom in the country after Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati and Bentley since President Aquino took office in 2010.—Gil Cabacungan

NU buys Nazareth School

National University of the Sy group has bought Nazareth School of Hijas de Jesus as part of plans to expand its footprint in the burgeoning education sector.

Last Jan. 18, parents were called to a meeting where Nazareth School principal Sr. Delia Pedroso announced that starting next year, the primary and secondary school will be known as “Nazareth School of National University.”

It was said that the Hijas de Jesus agreed to the “merger” with National University as the nuns are ageing and there are not enough of them left with training in education management. Costs are also on the rise and enrollment has been declining.

National University, for its part, was instructed by the Department of Education to separate its basic education unit from its college, thus the merger of the neighboring schools.

Nazareth School was founded in 1938 in Manila as a novitiate and became a school in 1947.—Tina Arceo-Dumlao

Pricing PBB

Some people were surprised with recent talk about Philippine Business Bank’s IPO price indicated at a maximum of up to P41.94 a share.

Not to worry. As with all IPO filings, it has been customary to indicate a maximum amount, with final pricing to be determined through a bookbuilding exercise. The comparison of the maximum price to the book value may appear to be higher than similar stocks in the market. However, this is a historical price-to-book value and is an inaccurate determinant of the offer price valuation, the issues underwriters explained.

Valuations for IPOs are based on forward value computations. The IPO offer price will not be far from current market comparables, and knowing the generosity of PBB owner, Ambassador Alfredo Yao, money will be “left on the table” for IPO investors (with the final price to be set on Feb. 4).

And it is at levels that leave enough upside where the issue intends to be priced, we hear. Given the expected growth story of PBB based on the SME sector, this may shaping to be another EastWest Bank IPO for happy investors courtesy of Ambassador Yao.—Doris C. Dumlao

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Tags: Benigno Aquino III , Bill Gates , car-sharing , Education , IPO , mergers , Motoring , National University , Nazareth School , Philippine Business Bank , Philippines , Rolls Royce , timesharing , world economic forum , World Economic Forum on East Asia

  • jurbinsky77

    I hated Bill Gates when he declared that he was donating $100M to the Philippines, continuing that the amount is the estimate of pirated Microsoft products in the Philipiines.

    What has happened to the so-called millions philanthrophy of MBG Foundation? And the bilions from Buffett. For Bll Gates, only the Indian computer tech workers should be able to go to US. Gates was able to sway the US Congress to allocate 45,000 visas annually to the Indians, 5,000 maybe for other nationalities.

    That was the reason why I was happy in knowing that the cabinet secretaries opted for Mac instead of Wintel but of course a lot of Filipinos are really slow-poke that “pwenoy” recieved a lot of flak because of that decision.

  • parefrank

    And soon Malacanang will tell that Gates also belongs to the “lining up” investors that will bring billions of dollars and millions of jobs to RP. Whenever  presidents goeabroad, Noy, GMA, Ramos, Cory, they bring billion investment  (talks) but at the end the billions are just millions, if ever. Why investors should “line up” when existing businesses are thinking about leaving to cheaper countries because of the extreme overvalued peso and labor conditions?

    • kismaytami

      Add the beggars on various government offices where businesses are required to register or report.

  • http://twitter.com/Borogol Borogol

    ..alang market mover sa tip ng bizbuzz ngayon.



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