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BIZ BUZZ

Harley Davidson ready to rumble

/ 11:56 PM February 19, 2013

Iconic heavyweight motorcycles from Harley Davidson may soon be rumbling out of the first showroom in the Philippines on Edsa. Construction of the showroom near the Mercedes Benz and Chrysler dealerships in Greenhills is under way and the Harley Davidson home in the Philippines is tentatively scheduled to open to the public on March 2.

An initial shipment of 20 motorbikes is coming in and exclusive distributor CATS Motors Inc., which is also the exclusive distributor in the Philippines of Mercedes Benz, Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler, has already received orders from those yearning to get their hands on these mean machines.

Founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by William Harley and Arthur Davidson, Harley Davidson is known for its touring motorcycles with the distinct design and engine note. Harley Davidson said on its website that it was the only major US-based motorcycle manufacturer and produces heavyweight motorcycles and a complete line of motorcycle parts, accessories and general merchandise. Tina Arceo-Dumlao

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‘Slow’ train

The Department of Transportation and Communications extended its own deadline for the submission of prequalification requirements for companies interested in the automated fare collection system for Metro Manila’s trains. The extension, of course, will lead to more delays in the implementation of the project that will benefit more than a million commuters that take the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) trains every day.

The DOTC said only one of the interested bidders would be able to submit all the required prequalification documents before the deadline. Only prequalified companies will be allowed to submit formal bids for the project.

And just how could all interested parties be so unprepared for a potentially lucrative project that the government has been hyping up for more than a year? According to Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo “Juju” Lotilla, it was all about timing. He said that since the deadline for the submission of documents was set on Feb. 14, it looked like very few companies would be able to have their business permits for the current year renewed on time—with their 2012 business permits having expired last December, obviously.

“That’s a lesson for us. Maybe we shouldn’t schedule deadlines in January,” Lotilla said in a recent interview. This sounded like an honest mistake to most, but considering that most of the Aquino administration’s cornerstone infrastructure projects are under the DOTC, slight oversights should be cause for concern.

The new deadline was moved to March 14. The government hopes to finally award the project by June. Paolo Montecillo

Beware fake Penshoppe GCs

If somebody offers you a steep discount on gift certificates that can supposedly be redeemed in any of the 600 stores of Cebu-based Golden ABC, then don’t. They could be fake.

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Golden ABC—owner of the Penshoppe, Oxygen, Memo, Forme, Regatta and Tyler stores—says that earlier this month, three of its stores in three different cities received fake gift certificates as payment for merchandise.

Upon further investigation, the customers reported that they had bought these gift certificates at a discount from unknown persons pretending to work for the mall establishment. Golden ABC thus issued a public advisory to protect its customers from this new modus operandi, specially since the incidents involved more than just one brand and one store.

Consider yourself warned.  Tina Arceo-Dumlao

New BPI exec

Fresh from attending an eight-week advanced management program at Harvard University, Junie Veloso, formerly senior vice president and senior vice president of corporate banking at British bank HSBC, was seen sitting at a table reserved for Bank of the Philippine Islands when BPI president Aurelio Montinola III received his award as Management Man  of the Year late last year.

So it did not come as a surprise that at his next public appearances—such as the annual bankers’ cocktail hosted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas—Veloso was carrying the BPI tag. Veloso has joined BPI as senior vice president and head of strategy management.

From the world’s local bank to the most valuable local bank, that is. Doris C. Dumlao

To fight ala Pacquiao

British American Tobacco is fighting an uphill battle to gain market share in the Philippines, particularly because it has just re-established a local presence last year. After its 2009 exit, BAT has regained foothold in what it now describes as a market with a level playing field—thanks to the new “sin tax” law. Saying there’s no way but up for the company does not have any hint of British understatement but merely of American candor. What with no one else at the BAT’s helm but James Lafferty, who is formerly with Procter and Gamble and Coca Cola. Lafferty himself says that, for instance, BAT’s market share will definitely go up because “we have practically nothing, zero.”

Expansion is expected of everything, from BAT’s workforce, distribution network and warehouses to local tobacco leaf purchasing. These are provided for under a five-year, $250-million capex program that went under way as soon as the new law took effect weeks ago.

To climb in market position, BAT chooses to earn just P1 for every pack of its lone brand currently available locally—Lucky Strike. “We set the retail price at P26 per pack, the same as that of [PMFTC’s] Marlboro,” Lafferty says. “We are shouldering the P25 excise tax that is imposed on our ‘premium’ product as the law describes it.”

He explains that Lucky Strike cannot gain a following if priced higher, but he also admitted that absorbing the tax—which is normally passed on to consumers—is not an option that he can keep for too long.

Reiterating what is probably one of his favorite metaphors, the former boxer said that BAT will take on the big boys like how Pacquiao fights—and unlike Mayweather. He means that BAT will neither resort to nifty tricks to avoid taxes nor sly marketing to bring up sales. It would be interesting to find out if BAT—like the lawmaker idol—gets knocked out, too, or dismissed for being rather preachy. Ron Domingo

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TAGS: Biz Buzz, BPI, British American Tobacco, DoTC, Harley Davidson, junie veloso, light rail transit system, penshoppe, sin tax law
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