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Biz Buzz

Top of the banking heap

/ 09:44 PM September 15, 2013

In what could be a milestone for the local banking scene, international trade publication FinanceAsia last Friday named BDO Universal Bank the best bank in Asia during its annual country awards in Singapore.

Yes, you heard it right: Best in Asia, mainly because the Henry Sy-owned mega financial institution “performed especially well in profitability and loans to assets,” according to FinanceAsia.

This marked the first time a Philippine bank was named the best in Asia, as the usual winners include names like Singapore’s DBS, or Hong Kong-based HSBC. BDO also broke the three-year winning streak of Public Bank of Malaysia.


According to FinanceAsia, the award reflects “the rise in fortunes of the country, notably its improved credit rating.”

“BDO people worked hard for it, and I’m very proud of them,” BDO chair Teresita Sy-Coson beamed, soon after the award was announced.

The criteria include profitability, net interest margin, loan-to-asset ratios, return on equity, price-to-book ratios, non-performing loan levels and analyst ratings, as well as credit ratings.

BDO beat other shortlisted banks which included ICBC (China), HDFC (India), Bank Central Asia (Indonesia), Shinhan Financial (Korea), Public Bank (Malaysia), DBS (Singapore), CTBC (Taiwan) and Siam Commercial Bank (Thailand).  Daxim L. Lucas

Abandon ship

Not only is its existing office building old and cramped but, for its own safety, the Securities and Exchange Commission must move out of its Edsa corner Ortigas Ave. premises soon. It need not wait for its new headquarters (earlier reported to be in the works at Bonifacio Global City’s future government financial cluster) to rise.

No less than the Department of Public Works and Highways advised the SEC to urgently set up shop elsewhere, citing the structural defects of the building which might not be able to withstand a strong earthquake.

At a time when the metropolis is said to be running out of office space, here comes the SEC, adding itself to the unmet demand. SEC chair Teresita Herbosa said the corporate watchdog is looking to rent about 4,000 square meters of office space for a five-year period (assuming that putting up a new building will take longer).


Some officials hope that the relocation will take place in the first quarter of 2014.

Industry sources said one of the buildings earlier considered by the SEC to be its interim home is the Urban Bank (now Export Bank) building on the corner of Gil Puyat Ave. and Chino Roces Ave. in Makati City. But after seeing the area submerged in floodwaters during the recent monsoon rains, SEC’s top brass had a rethink.

Now, while the current SEC building is deemed unworthy to house the country’s corporate regulators, the ground on which it stands is a strategically located and valuable piece of real estate from which the SEC can unlock values.

Furthermore, this site benefits from good feng shui, Herbosa said. As such, while the SEC is still keen on joining the government cluster in BGC, it reserves the option of building on the current site. Expect joint venture proposals from big property developers to reach the SEC’s top brass soon.  Doris C. Dumlao

Nadecor majority fires back

You may have read Jose Ricafort’s side in the ongoing corporate tussle involving Nationwide Development Corp., which owns the rights to the multibillion-dollar King-King mining project in Compostela Valley. Now hear the side of Conrado Calalang and Ambassador Roberto Romulo.

According to them, no less than the Court of Appeals decided in February of this year that the Calalang board is the legitimate board of directors of Nadecor.

The Court of Appeals also issued a permanent injunction that day prohibiting the Ricafort board from acting on behalf of Nadecor.

More importantly, Ambassador Romulo told Biz Buzz that the Ricafort group is not the company’s majority shareholder since they controlled only 25 percent of Nadecor’s stock, compared to 67 percent held by the Calalang group, its ally St. Agustine Gold and Copper Ltd., and independent investors.

Meanwhile, Queensberry Mining led by former Sen. Manuel Villar had indeed paused in its plan to invest directly in Nadecor (due to the corporate squabble). Later, it invested its funds in St. Agustine, thus guaranteeing its support for the project.

The Calalang group now believes that the Ricafort faction wants to create sufficient negative publicity about the firm and the project to make St. Agustine waver in its financial commitment to the group—and thus, derail the King-King project. Now we know both sides.  Daxim L. Lucas

No disruption

On concerns of some stock market folk that the “anti-monopoly” case may scuttle the existing depository system that also includes equities (from which the bulk of its revenues come), the Philippine Dealing System Holdings (PDS) Group issued a statement to allay fears of disruption.

PDS said the existing court case at the Supreme Court was “not expected to affect the services of its subsidiary, Philippine Depository and Trust Corp. (PDTC), to the equities market.”

“The petition seeks no relief from the high court that would render PDTC incapable from continuing the depository function for the equities market under the Philippine Stock Exchange. We assure the equities market that business shall continue as usual, and that PDS Group does not anticipate any untoward effects on the equities depository. We remain steadfast in providing the service,” PDS said.  Doris C. Dumlao

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