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Oil firms beware

Times must really be tough for some party-list organizations on the financial front. According to our sources, there is at least one party-list group out there that has been trying to raise campaign funds by victimizing oil firms.

How does it work? Well, according to one source who’s been on the receiving end of this particular activity, the modus operandi goes like this: The group—which shall remain unnamed, for now—would have some of its members gas up at a gasoline station of their target oil firm. After this, they would start spreading stories about alleged inaccuracies committed against their members and, by extension, the consuming public.

Then they would seek an audience with top officials of the oil firm involved, and—here’s the clincher—threaten to expose the alleged illegal activity to media.

During one such meeting with company executives, the officials of the party-list group indicated that, for a price, they could make the incident go away and just forget about the whole thing.

So who is this party-list group? Hint: their livelihood is tied directly to that of gasoline stations.  Daxim L. Lucas

Value accretive

SM Prime Holdings chief finance officer Jeffrey Lim has recently been active in the affairs of SM Development Corp., leading to speculation that once SM property units were consolidated, he would be named as the new president of the residential property unit.

“He was requested to assist because we just wanted to understand each other. This has something to do with consolidation. We just wanted to look into the details,” SM Prime Hans Sy said in a press briefing. Lim affirmed he was “just helping” out for now, denying talks he has been seconded to become SMDC’s acting president. “We’ll know next week (during SMDC’s annual stockholders’ meeting) if it will be permanent,” Lim later told Biz Buzz.

Sy said the timetable for the consolidation would still be within the year but noted that studies were still ongoing. He acknowledged that there were concerns from some investors who had bought into SM Prime because of the pure shopping mall play on the prospective impact on the valuation of SM Prime. “That’s why we have to make sure that valuation is done very carefully,” adding he was confident that majority of SM Prime investors would consent to the transaction.

Lim added that this prospective consolidation would not drag down the valuation of any of the SM units involved. Apart from SMDC and SM Prime, he said the consolidation could also include Highlands Prime and the unlisted SM Land. Instead, he said this should be “value accretive.”

“It should provide us the scale and develop real estate projects in the future,” Lim said.  Doris C. Dumlao

‘Fortress Philamlife’

Insurance giant Philamlife has a spanking new headquarters in Bonifacio Global City to compliment its iconic tower along Paseo de Roxas in Makati, but not everyone is cheering, it seems.

According to a source, the insurance firm’s agents have been complaining about the access (or lack of it) that agents are forced by management to endure.

In particular, our source was upset about the contrast between Philamlife’s new building in the ultra-modern Taguig City business and entertainment district and the insurance firm’s old head office along UN Avenue in Manila.

In the latter office, agents were supposedly allowed to transact business and interact with officers more or less freely. In the new Global City office, however, agents are allowed only until the ground floor lobby, we were told.

One agent, wanting to consult with officials in the underwriting department, managed to go up the fifth floor where the person she was supposed to talk to holds office. But the lobby guards were unaware that agents were not allowed to go past the lobby. So up the agent went and—viola—the guard she met upstairs was “horrified” to see her and sent the agent back down.

The agent ended up “waiting for hours” at the lobby for the right official to come by, to no avail.

Other complaints included one about a group of agents supposedly being slated for a tour of the new office, but being restricted to a meeting in the lobby instead. There were also complaints about agents’ queries to officials—via e-mail or phone—not getting appropriate and timely replies. Naturally, all this left some agents pining for the “good old days” under Philam chair Jose Cuisia Jr.

But all is not lost. New Philam president and CEO Rex Mendoza told Biz Buzz that he has been made aware of the issues and acknowledged that their security personnel needed more customer service training to focus on courtesy and sensitivity.

On the other hand, he said agents would also have to get used to the new scheme at Philam where agents would have access only to specific areas or departments where they needed to conduct their business (“a given for all modern buildings”).

“Hey, we just moved here a few weeks ago,” Mendoza said. “We have to improve on both ends.” Daxim L. Lucas

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Tags: Biz Buzz , Business , column , oil firms , partylist groups , philamlife , SM Prime Holdings

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