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Biz Buzz

/ 07:40 PM March 24, 2013

Second chance

A fund manager from a major bank was recently the talk of the stock trading town for having loaded up on what some describe as non-bankable stocks: Neither blue chips nor second-liners. It was believed to be a bad call as certain internal thresholds were breached and especially as the prices of these stocks plummeted. As a prudential move on the part of his employer, the fund manager was taken out of the trading desk.

Biz Buzz asked the president of the bank what the real score was with this fund manager, who is well-esteemed and has had vast experience working with big financial institutions in advanced markets before coming back home to the Philippines to join this big bank. The bank chief said that as certain limits were exceeded, the fund manager was indeed taken out of that trading position. However, the banker pointed out that this person still had a lot of potential and could contribute to the institution in some other ways, such as on the analysis side of the business. “We believe in second chances,” the bank chief said, adding that the person involved was “a very good analyst.” Doris C. Dumlao


Edifice complex

The ongoing feud between Century Properties of former Ambassador Jose Antonio and Picar Development Inc. of Amable Aguiluz V (himself also an ambassador, incidentally, as the government’s envoy to the Gulf Cooperation Council) seems to have taken a turn for the worse.

This happened about a week ago after Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson issued an order stopping Makati City’s office of the building official from processing or issuing certificates of occupancy for the five floors that Century Properties added to its Gramercy Residences high-rise along Kalayaan Ave.

Singson’s action was based on a complaint filed by Picar alleging that Century illegally constructed five additional floors for Gramercy.

Picar pointed out that Makati’s city building official issued an amended building permit on June 8, 2012, (allowing the additional floors) four days after Century Properties applied for it. But “the application clearly stated that the five additional floors were ‘finished’ as of June 4, 2012”—before the permit was granted—Picar said in its complaint to Singson.

Picar also claimed that “there is no indication” that Makati officials inspected the project “to ensure that it complied with the National Building Code” or that it conducted the necessary investigation to determine Century Properties’ liability for the construction of the five additional floors without any valid building permit.

Century Properties, for its part, said that its Century City Development Corp. had “adequately complied with all the requirements” of regulators and had “legally obtained the building permit and occupancy permit for the Gramercy Residences, including its five additional floors.”

Our sources in the property industry tell us that one driver of this ongoing war between Antonio and Aguiluz is the bragging rights for having the tallest building in the country.


Gramercy was originally planned to be a 65-storey residential building (back then the highest building in the country). But Antonio and Aguiluz apparently had a falling out and their joint venture to develop the former International School property in Makati soon turned into a war that went steadily from cold to hot.

Picar’s adjacent Stratford Place building was soon announced to be aiming for 74 storeys (thus having the bragging rights to being “the tallest”). Let’s just hope neither of them add too many floors (to the point of structural instability) just for the sake of bragging rights. Daxim L. Lucas

TV5’s new chief

After a few weeks of suspense, the decision has been made as to who would replace Hong Kong-bound Ray Espinosa as head of TV5.

According to our sources, Ricky Vargas has been “anointed” as the head of the country’s third-ranked television network. “His appointment is now 99-percent sure,” said one group insider. “Naturally, it’s never really 100 percent until the formal announcement is made.”

A longtime executive of the PLDT group, Vargas distinguished himself most recently as the president of Maynilad Water Services Inc. where he helped improve operating efficiencies and, consequently, profitability.

He also has a strong background in human resources (having served as the HR head of PLDT for many years)—a skill that will come in handy in TV5, we’re told.

Like many officials in the stable of businessman Manny Pangilinan, Vargas is also a sports buff and is heavily involved in the sports endeavors of the group. (At one time, he headed the country’s amateur boxing association.)

Of course, Espinosa—the group’s leading legal eagle for many years—is supposedly being eyed as heir apparent to MVP and is being sent to Hong Kong where he will sharpen his skills further with the parent firm, First Pacific Co. Ltd.

Meanwhile, an “insider” is likely to be named Vargas’ replacement at the helm of Maynild, the source said, adding that other personnel movements are likely to be announced within the PLDT-Metro Pacific group in the coming weeks.

Expect more interesting tidbits soon. Daxim L. Lucas

Hospital PPP

Infrastructure holding firm Metro Pacific Investments Corp. has purchased bidding documents for the 700-bed specialty orthopedic hospital to be located within the National Kidney and Transplant Institute compound along East Avenue, Quezon City, but it looks like the group of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan will take a raincheck.

Industry sources said the group realized that it was better to stick to its strategy of investing in existing hospitals and unlocking efficiencies from them than building new ones. “The building of greenfield hospitals is not part of our expertise yet,” said a source from the MVP group.

The government intends to bid out the $135.5-million greenfield orthopedic project on April 26 under the public-private partnership (PPP) framework. The winning bidder will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the facility for a 25-year concession period and then transfer the hospital to the Department of Health.

But another listed company plans to try its luck, especially after winning an earlier PPP project involving the construction of school-buildings. Industry sources said Megawide Construction—led by entrepreneurs Michael Cosiquien and Edgar Saavedra—would team up with a local healthcare expert to vie for this project.

Another strong contender is the Campos group via the Unilab-Mount Grace Hospital Ventures consortium.

The Department of Health earlier announced that other groups that had earlier purchased bidding documents were GE Health Care General Electric Philippines Inc., Sta. Clara International Corp., Philips Electronic and Lighting Inc. and Data Trail Corp. Doris C. Dumlao

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TAGS: ABC TV5, Business, Century Properties, money, News
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