Biz Buzz: Sending off Gigi

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In 10 days—or right after the annual stockholders’ meeting of Ayala-led Bank of the Philippine Islands—the country’s most valuable bank will have a new president, investment banker Cezar Consing, who certainly has very big shoes to fill.

Last Friday, retiring president Aurelio “Gigi” Montinola III was given a scenic send-off party with BPI’s senior management team and the business media—a sunset dinner cruise along Manila Bay with live music courtesy of singer and personal development/life coach Pat Castillo.

Montinola, who assumed the presidency of BPI in 2005 and headed BPI Family Bank before that, is ending his career on a high note. The “Management Man of Year 2012” awardee has been recognized for his “outstanding stewardship of BPI as a highly successful organization, a socially responsible corporate citizen and a fiduciary firm known for good governance.”

Montinola, whom some people still cannot believe has hit retirement age, is mum on what he will do after his long and stellar banking career, but, as usually is the case, at the top of his list is to go on a vacation break. He is also going to the US to attend his daughter’s college graduation.

Apart from his role in BPI, Montinola is involved with two institutions—as vice chair of Lafarge Republic and Far Eastern University. He declines to answer when asked if he will play a greater role in either (or both.)—Doris C. Dumlao

LTG hits the road

All is set for the follow-on offering of tycoon Lucio Tan-led conglomerate LTG Inc., which could be the first Philippine issuer to brave the offshore capital market and ride on the Philippine government’s newly minted investment grade status.

An industry source privy to the fund-raising said an offer circular for the issue worth between $600 million and $800 million will come out this week. The source added that LTG will offer at the most (and including the so-called “green shoe” option) about 2 billion shares, much less than the maximum issue size of 3 billion shares that the company has obtained authority to offer.

The source said LTG was ready to conduct road shows in Hong Kong, Singapore, London and the US within the next few days to launch the offering, which targets mostly overseas investors. “The timing is very good,” the source said.

Under the top-up offering framework, LTG’s controlling shareholder Tangent Holdings will place out some of its shares but it will eventually subscribe to the same number of new shares at the same price. This way, Tangent will only be lending its shares to allow LTG to raise fresh equity. Proceeds from the offering are expected to be used for LTG’s banking, property and beer businesses.—Doris C. Dumlao

Century says, Picar says

Despite the issues raised against his Gramercy Residence high-rise project by rival Picar Development Inc., real estate tycoon Jose Antonio betrays no hint of having had his feathers ruffled.

We asked the Century Properties chair what he thought about the complaint filed by Picar—led by businessman Amable Aguiluz V—against his project, and all he did was shrug: “I don’t understand why anyone would be upset. I’m not fighting anyone here.”

Antonio said that his only goal was to “build quality projects” that would satisfy the discriminating taste of clients, nothing more.

Century isn’t even in a race with Picar—its former partner in winning the right to develop the former International School property along Kalayaan Ave. in Makati City—to build the country’s tallest building, the company said. (Picar’s Stratford Place will have 74 stories while Century’s Grammercy Residences will have 73 stories after five floors have been added—something Picar objects to.)

For its part, Picar reiterated that Century originally had no permit when the additional floors were constructed and was issued only as an afterthought (Antonio stresses that they had all the required approvals).

“Century hired a new structural engineer, replacing the previous one for the 68-story project,” Picar said in a statement sent to Biz Buzz. “Why?” The Aguiluz-run firm further suggested that an independent assessor be hired to review the building’s structural plans before occupancy permits are issued.

Antonio, for his part, says he isn’t bothered by the attacks. “What I’m doing is creating a high-profile brand that would put us on the world stage,” he said. “I’m just trying to help our country.”

Well, it looks like there’s no end in sight yet for this particular fight.—Daxim L. Lucas

Naia Expressway bidding

If plans do not miscarry, the bidding for the 7-kilometer elevated roadway that will connect the three terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport with the multibillion-dollar Pagcor Entertainment City will happen today, Monday.

The project calls for the winning bidder to build a five-kilometer Skyway-type toll road that will run from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2 and the old Terminal 1, and then onto the reclamation area on the edge of Manila Bay, where there will be a 2-kilometer “at-grade” portion inside the Entertainment City complex.

The project could not have come at a better time for the four licensees of Pagcor, all of which need a more efficient system of getting tourists and gamers from the airport to their hotels, casinos and shopping malls. So crucial is this project, in fact, that the four licensees have agreed to shoulder half of the estimated P13.5-billion cost of the elevated roadway “just so things would move faster,” said one person familiar with the project.

The 50-percent private sector subsidy would then be split four ways between the four licensees, namely tycoon Enrique Razon Jr.’s Bloomberry Resorts, the Melco Crown-SM group tie-up, the Okada-Gokongwei partnership and the Resorts World consortium of tycoon Andrew Tan and the Genting group of Malaysia.

Under the bidding scheme, the proponent that submits the lowest total cost (thus entailing the lowest subsidy requirement) will be awarded the project. As usual, the race will be contested by the familiar names that have long been itching to get to work on the government’s public-private partnership program: San Miguel Corp., Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and the Ayala group, among others.

Again, if plans do not miscarry, the Naia Expressway may be one of only seven big-ticket PPP projects that will be completed before President Aquino steps down from office in mid-2016.—Daxim L. Lucas

 

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