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Biz Buzz: Shooting for the skies

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Though being coy about his interest in the flag carrier, businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is in the running to be the white knight of Philippine Airlines, our sources said.

As we cited about a year ago, MVP has been proactive even when taking in a new investor was not an explicit option for the “Kapitan,” tycoon Lucio Tan.

These days, he is much more into this race for control of the skies and is believed to be a strong contender, especially as his group has historically bagged deals by submitting offers that the selling party could not refuse (aka “bidding to win”).

MVP is, in fact, preparing the team to take over PAL in case he gets the opportunity to acquire the storied flag carrier.

Consequently, this will uproot some senior executives in other local businesses controlled by the First Pacific group, MVP’s principal. The group’s top-of-mind to lead PAL, our sources said, is Victorico Vargas, CEO of Maynilad Water Services Inc. This time around, the sky is clearly not the limit for MVP.—Doris C. Dumlao

Tightening ‘independence’

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairperson Teresita Herbosa wants the corporate watchdog to tackle in its last en banc Commission meeting this September a proposed blueprint for tightening the rules on independent directorship in the country.

The proposal is to limit the term of independent directors to six years, and these people should sit in the boards of no more than six companies. There will be a cooling-off period, which is still being polished, before the independent director could make a comeback in the same company.

This could mean that many professional executives currently in the boardroom of the country’s biggest companies will bring home less bacon (and yield less influence).

Some critics would also argue, however, that the longer a person is “embedded” in a company, the more this independent director can understand the company and better contribute to decision-making. But as the framework is an inevitability, it could also open up a golden opportunity for the pool of alternative independent directors trained by the likes of the Institute for Corporate Directors—some of whom are otherwise “all suited up but have nowhere to go” (as described by one investment banker)—to contribute to corporate Philippines.—

Doris C. Dumlao

Shopping mall trivia

Four of the 12 biggest shopping malls in the world are in the Philippines, according to global property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle. And these are all SM Prime malls, obviously. The sprawling SM Mall of Asia aka MOA is the biggest in terms of actual land usage but SM City North Edsa is the country’s largest in terms of gross leasable area (425,000 square meters). It is also the third-largest in the world after South China Mall (660,000 sqm) in Dongguan, China, and Jin Yuan (560,000 sqms) in Beijing.

The fourth-biggest in the world is the Philippines’ MOA, followed by SM Megamall. Ranking sixth to 11th are: Dubai Mall in the UAE; West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada; Cevahir Istanbul in Turkey; Berjaya Times Square in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Beijing Mall in China; and Zhengjia Plaza in Guangzhou also in China. SM City Cebu completes the top 12 list.

SM has now started construction of its largest mall in Tianjin, China, virtually ensuring that this list will change again in the next few years.—Doris C. Dumlao

‘Rockwell magic’

Lopez-led Rockwell Land Corp., known for its upscale, exclusive condominium developments in Makati, is now looking to diversifying its portfolio to accommodate a bigger share of the real estate market. This time, however, Rockwell is planning to build townhouses—yes, townhouses—marking the company’s first foray into horizontal developments.

According to officials privy to the venture, the new project will be within the Ortigas area, adjacent to private subdivisions such as North Greenhills, Horseshoe Village and Mariposa. According to company officials, this latest venture—way different from previous and current high-end condo developments the company is currently engaged in—is “envisioned to be one of the most exclusive communities within the area.”

The company is expected to make an announcement in the next few weeks. Will that “Rockwell magic” continue to work on its first townhouse project? We’ll see soon enough.—Amy R. Remo

Deputy no more

The Public-Private Partnership Center is getting a new chief. Unlike any other new assignment, the new head will require little or no adjustment. No introductions are even needed. That’s because the second in command, Cosette Canilao, will be permanently given the reins at the agency.

According to our source, Canilao is the perfect person to lead the government’s PPP efforts, considering her experience as an investment banker and her years of work in various sectors, which included education, healthcare and hospital services, information technology, manufacturing and real estate.

During her stint as partner at auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers, she specialized in business recovery services, business reviews, distressed mergers and acquisitions, financial management advisory, private equity transactions, restructuring programs and risk-based capital management.—Abigail Ho

Direct line to P-Noy

Wags were working double time last week when President Aquino finally announced the appointment of former Muntinlupa congressman Ruffy Biazon as head of the Bureau of Customs.

A number of observers noted that Biazon—and newly appointed Customs intelligence chief Danny Lim—were personal choices of the President, replacing Lito Alvarez, who was a personal choice of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima (whose original choice for the post was also vetoed by the President).

Could this signal an ever so slight reduction in Purisima’s clout in the Presidential Palace? It certainly looks that way from the outside, since the finance chief—nominally the direct boss of the Customs head—was supposedly left out of the loop when Biazon was chosen last month.

Ever the gracious one, Biazon made it a point to relay to everyone at the Department of Finance executive committee meeting last Friday that he had explicit instructions from P-Noy to report through Secretary Purisima (in an effort to dispel any doubts), according to our source.

Of course, words and deeds can vary in the real world. So which will prevail? We suspect we won’t have to wait long to see.—Daxim L. Lucas

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Tags: Air Transport , appointments , Bureau of Customs , Business , Malls , Philippine Airlines , Real Estate , Rockwell Land , Securities and Exchange Commission

  • Anonymous

    Biazon has not even started in his job but this writer is already creating an intrigue.



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