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Biz Buzz: Eton revamp

/ 04:07 AM July 10, 2013

A management shakeout is ongoing in property developer Eton Properties Philippines, which is now under the control of Lucio “Bong” Tan Jr., eldest son from taipan Lucio Tan’s first family.

Several senior management officials have been asked to go on an “audit leave” as the new leadership purportedly wants to review systems and processes while charting the course for future growth.

This audit leave means: “Don’t report for work until we say so because we want a free hand to find out whether you’ve been doing your job or not.”


Elsewhere in the local property industry, among the big players at least, some form of restructuring is likewise taking place.

While going on an audit leave is technically not termination (at least not yet) and affected officers get paid just like when they’re availing themselves of vacation leave credits, this has, however, triggered paranoia among senior folks at Eton, a relatively new player in the property segment compared to industry peers.

The buzz is that some senior officials have chosen to bite the bullet early. If Eton were still a public company (it voluntarily delisted from the Philippine Stock Exchange early this year), there probably would be some disclosure now on those key resignations. Some staffers often ask these days: “Who’s next?”—Doris C. Dumlao

Activist ORE investors

A group calling itself the “Pinoy Investment Club” has written the board of directors of publicly listed Oriental Peninsula Resources Group Inc. demanding an explanation for what it believes is the “manipulated” stock price of the company.

In its letter, the group said it was “obvious” that last month’s trading of ORE shares was “manipulated by some brokers” who have been “instructed by you to aggressively sell the stock to reach a level of P1 in order to allow two big investors to buy 500 million shares at par value.”

It proceeded to identify the stock brokerage firm involved in what it believes is an anomalous selloff as the long-established Papa Securities.

The group also threatened to elevate the matter to the Philippine Stock Exchange and the Securities and Exchange Commission should the firm fail to make an appropriate disclosure as to what caused ORE’s share price to decline precipitously.


Naturally, the group did not identify its members or give any other clues as to what it was about, save for a slogan on the letterhead that read: “Fighting for shareholders’ rights and creating share value.”

Papa Securities, for its part, took issue with the accusation of the group, saying that the ORE trades it made were merely order executions for a large institutional client.

“How could we be manipulating the shares when all the mining stocks were going down at that time?” Papa Securities official Homer Perez told Biz Buzz. “Other mining shares declined even more than ORE, as investors were shifting to other stocks that time.”

“When our client gives us an order, we execute that order,” he added.

Perez also questioned the motive of the “Philippine Investment Club” in writing the letter, saying it did not even identify who its members were.

“It’s very easy to invent a group and file a complaint,” he said, noting that Papa Securities has managed to keep its reputation clean in its many years of operation in the stock market.

“Maraming talangka in this business,” he added, referring to the proverbial ‘crab mentality’ of trying to pull down others who are successful. —Daxim L. Lucas


Keeping beer

In an interview with CNBC’s Christine Tan at segment “Managing Asia” (which ran last weekend), San Miguel Corp. president Ramon S. Ang, or RSA, affirmed that the conglomerate was working on a prospective big investment in oil and gas field outside the Philippines. To fund such a large investment, apart from the prospective sale of SMC’s stake in Manila Electric Co., Ang said SMC could pare down interest in food unit San Miguel Purefoods Inc. and list its packaging and power generation businesses. From these transactions alone, he said SMC could immediately raise $5 to $6 billion to fund new ventures.

“A lot of international manufacturers are courting us,” RSA said.

But asked about San Miguel Brewery Inc., RSA said: “I think it’s one business that we should keep as a souvenir.” When Tan thus teased him about being “sentimental,” RSA explained only a “super-deal”—an extremely attractive investment that would require a hefty $20 billion in investment—would make him consider selling beer.—Doris C. Dumlao

PSE warning

With rising public interest in the stock market, the Philippine Stock Exchange has warned that some unauthorized entities and events organizers may be using its name—and charging fees from attendees—in stock investing seminars.

In a memorandum dated July 5, PSE president Hans Sicat said the local bourse had received information that a certain company called “SGVN Events Management” had been conducting seminars on stock investing allegedly in Baguio City and San Fernando City, La Union, and representing its event as a partnership with the PSE. Registration fees were collected from the participants. Sicat said the PSE did not authorize any of its employees or representatives to conduct such seminars.

Sicat advised the public to visit the PSE website at or the PSE Academy website at for a complete listing of market education events and seminars sanctioned by the PSE.—Doris C. Dumlao


Expanding airlines

Domestic carriers are expanding their operations, spelling good news not only for travelers but for potential individuals aspiring for a career in the skies.

The latest announcement was made by recently rebranded Tiger Airways Philippines, which is embarking on a major expansion program that would see its fleet of five medium-range Airbus planes grow to 25 aircraft in three to five years.

Tiger Philippines is set to embark on a recruiting program across its stations in the country, possibly starting by September, we heard. Tiger Philippines currently flies to Clark, Laoag, Bacolod, Kalibo, Cebu, Iloilo, Tacloban and Puerto Princesa.

Given its re-fleeting plan, the airline could need as many as 500 new cabin crew members, or flight attendants, and about 100 pilots, we were told.

Tiger Philippines, the budget airline unit of Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd., is up against stiff competition.

Dominant budget carrier Cebu Pacific and flag carrier Philippine Airlines are also aggressively expanding their operations in the country and overseas.

But Tiger Philippines believes it offers a competitive compensation package to workers.

Apart from a keen interest in working for the service industry, Tiger Philippines requires its flight crew to have a height of at least 5’4”. And of course, an appealing personality and proportionate build are always a plus.—Miguel R. Camus


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TAGS: Eton, jobs, Lucio “Bong” Tan Jr., Oriental Peninsula Resources Group, Philippine Stock Exchange, property, Ramon S. Ang, Real Estate, San Miguel Corp., Tiger Airways Philippines
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