Biz Buzz: PPP’s perfect attendance
The government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects may be slow to get out of the starting blocks, but one certainly cannot accuse officials of the PPP Center of sleeping on the job.
In fact, some have observed that they may be a bit too zealous when looking after projects, registering perfect attendance in several of their favorite events. This may include projects that are not even on the official list of PPP deals.
Last week, a ranking official of the PPP Center was spotted at the inauguration of the Harbor Link roadway project of the Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) that will connect the North Harbor with the North Luzon Expressway. Nothing wrong with the PPP official being in attendance, of course, except that … last we heard, the unsolicited Harbor Link was not even a PPP project. Interesting.
The next day, the same PPP official appeared at the board meeting of the Toll Regulatory Board to discuss the delayed connector road project, while the representative from the National Economic and Development Authority was absent. Nothing wrong with that, of course, since the PPP Center is under Neda. But some observers wondered: Does the PPP official now speak for Neda? Interesting.
The PPP official and the representative of the Department of Finance were specially interested in having one proponent, the San Miguel-Citra group, sign a memorandum of agreement with the MVP group before the TRB could approve the project.
But wait … sign an agreement? Isn’t the latter’s project still subject to a Swiss challenge? Even more interesting.
Both the PPP official and the DOF official, incidentally, were the lead people behind the long-delayed Daang Hari project, now two years behind schedule.
And observers thought that the PPP Center was a mere coordinating agency. No wonder the projects are delayed.—Daxim L. Lucas
Tan Caktiong’s ‘Big Sip’
Billionaire Tony Tan Caktiong, founder and president/CEO of homegrown fast-food giant Jollibee Foods Corp., has taken an even higher profile by gracing the February cover of Forbes Asia Magazine. The cover story “Big Sip” talks about Jollibee’s overseas expansion program, particularly in China where the group has now built a 400-store footprint through the acquisition of various local brands.
One key insight shared by Tan Caktiong with Forbes was that he expected operations in China—to date, Jollibee’s biggest overseas market—to break even in the next two years.
“It is a matter of getting to a certain number of stores and continuously growing our same-store sales to achieve absolute profitability in China. We now have nearly 400 stores. We estimate we need 500 to get to break even. We think we can get to that in 2014,” he was quoted in the article.
In a recent disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, JFC had said it was targeting to hit 4,000 stores worldwide by 2020. As of end-September last year, its total network numbered 2,581, of which 2,040 are in the Philippines under various brands Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, Red Ribbon, Mang Inasal and Burger King.
In the Forbes article, Tan Caktiong also shared that he was not forcing his children to work for the company. It noted that the eldest of his three children, Carl Brian, 32, is now the company’s business development director focusing on the 12 Sabu venture with Wowprime in Shanghai, while two daughters live in California.
On his management style, the article described Tan Caktiong as one who “believes in persuading people instead of ordering them, emphasizing coming to a consensus. He motivates people by delegating and maintaining a strong rewards system.”
Finally, Tan Caktiong also shared in the Forbes Asia article his perspective on how Jollibee trumped McDonald’s in this market. The strategy shared to the magazine is no secret at all: “Our [food] tends to be sweeter, [has] more spices, more salty. We were lucky as it was not easy for them to change their product because of their global image.”—Doris C. Dumlao
Signal issues, redux
So once more, GMA Network Inc. is complaining that the signal of its flagship GMA 7 channel was nowhere to be found on the cable TV network of SkyCable, owned by the Lopez family (which owns rival ABS-CBN, of course).
This time around, however, SkyCable didn’t pooh-pooh the complaint. Instead, they immediately sent out an advisory admitting to the … uhm … issues, in an oblique way.
SkyCable said it was working with GMA and the telecommunications regulator to fix the problem.
In the meantime, its recommended solution for frustrated GMA 7 viewers was simple: reset the Digibox consoles and rescan for the 447.0 frequency and search for NIT mode and… OK, that wasn’t so simple.—Daxim L. Lucas
Proving a point
Never mind that leaving the country seems to be in vogue nowadays for people running afoul of local authorities.
The camp of Roberto Ongpin said that the businessman was all set to return to the Philippines on Sunday in his private Dassault Falcon jet, no less.
The big deal, of course, is that the businessman—hounded by some elements of the current administration for his complicated transactions involving the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines and shares of Philex Mining Corp.—is the subject of a hold-departure order issued by the Sandiganbayan, which was issued a few weeks after he left for a string of business meetings in Europe.
No such temptation for the businessman to cool his heels in Europe, according to his camp. He’s coming home to prove a point… that he’s ready to face his accusers, we’re told.
In any case, Ongpin can always stay in his Balesin Island hideaway off the coast of Quezon province while fighting his legal battles. No need to pass through immigration when flying to the popular resort.
Ongpin’s Alpahaland now has four aircraft (two BAe Jetstreams and two Cessna Grand Caravans), which brought the total number of seats to and from Balesin to more than 200 a day. Just in time for the expected peak during the Holy Week break.
Visitors fearing depleted water supplies during the summer heat need not worry, we’re told. The island’s 1.5-kilometer concrete runway has deep gutters on either side where rainfall runoff is collected and diverted into large ponds, before being filtered.
Security conscious VIPs can also take comfort with the local security staff who are mostly ex-Army Scout Ranger and Special Forces personnel, we hear.—Daxim L. Lucas
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