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Recto quits Alphaland

/ 12:02 AM June 25, 2014

Following the partition of Alphaland Corp.’s assets as a settlement of a dispute between businessman Roberto V. Ongpin (RVO) and British fund Ashmore, RVO’s nephew Eric Recto—who is now the new local partner of Ashmore in its property and banking interests in the Philippines—has expectedly quit as board member of Alphaland.

Alphaland is carving out some assets in favor of a newly incorporated company owned by Ashmore-led Alphaland Holdings (Singapore) Pte. and Recto-led Masrickstar Corp. In return, these two entities will give all of their shares in Alphaland back to the company and pay the latter P2.5 billion in cash.

The assets that the Recto-Ashmore partnership will acquire from Alphaland are the Alphaland Tower along Ayala Avenue in Makati; Alphaland Marina Club Inc. and Alphaland Marina Corp., which is developing a marina project along the Manila Bay reclamation area in Parañaque; a 50-percent stake in Alphaland Bay City Corp., the controversial joint venture with the Wenceslao group, and the 60-percent interest owned by the company in the Boracay Gateway project in Caticlan and Nabas, Aklan.

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Apart from ending the feud with Ashmore, the settlement has also given RVO’s group a prospective way out of complicated investments, particularly the marina yacht club project with its estranged partner, the Wenceslaos. But we heard that the Wenceslao heirs, in contrast with their non-confrontational patriarch, may still raise a howl on this.

On the other hand, Alphaland Tower in Makati had long been placed on the auction block. Alphaland earlier entered into discussions to sell the entire building to the group of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan but talks fell though.

Will Recto-Ashmore continue the development of these assets or sell out? How will the tandem resolve existing disputes it will inherit, particularly in the soured partnership with the Wenceslaos? That’s the next chapter in this saga. Doris C. Dumlao

Mandated cheaper electricity?

Is the government getting ready to unilaterally mandate a reduction in electricity rates?

It sure seems that way.

Biz Buzz learned that the Department of Energy has created a multisectoral task force to study various ways of reducing electricity rates nationwide.

Looking at the members of this task force, one can say that its composition seems geared toward accommodating sectors that have been clamoring for lower electricity prices, specifically appeasing their respective advocacies.

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The origins of the task force date back to May 2013 when labor groups trooped to Malacañang to propose the creation of a dedicated group that will sit with representatives of labor and consumer groups “to monitor, discuss and resolve issues” affecting power supply and affordability.

Biz Buzz learned that between February and March of this year, DOE initiated a review of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) of 2001 with this task force undertaking discussions to improve policies and efficiencies in the energy sector with the end view of attaining transparent, reasonable and efficient energy prices and supply security.

But critics from the power sector are questioning the membership of the task force.

There is, in particular, a question about the non-inclusion of the pro-business Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) in the roster of members who are consulted … while foreign chambers of commerce (who all want cheaper electricity) are included.

The local power sector is now worried that the DOE task force has put on blinders and is unwilling to listen to anyone who would not take the populist line of ordering a power rate reduction.

What does the power sector want? In short, they want a reasonable voice in the DOE task force. Perhaps a voice like FPI’s. Now, will the government listen? It’s a longshot.

After unilaterally mandating cheaper water rates, cheaper mobile phone services, and even a status quo in ATM fees, it looks like electricity is next on the list. Daxim L. Lucas

E-mail us at bizbuzz@inquirer.com.ph. Get business alerts and a preview of Biz Buzz the evening before it comes out. Text ON INQ BUSINESS to 4467 (P2.50/alert).

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TAGS: alphaland corp., Biz Buzz, Business, cheaper electricity, column, Department of Energy, dispute, Eric Recto, settlement
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