How businessmen bet on candidates
SHHH… just between us girls, a well-known businessman recently commissioned a top secret public opinion poll in the National Capital Region, timing the survey right after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) deadline for filing of certificates of candidacy.
Our beloved magnate heads one of the biggest among the biggest business groups in the country. As we all know, the business community has always been the biggest customer of those rather expensive public opinion surveys.
Who do you think actually commissioned—as in “paid for”—all those quarterly election polls that were meant for public consumption through media exposure?
Still, certain election poll surveys never landed on front pages, simply because they were meant for business-only consumption as some potent management tool. After all, businesses always have so much at stake in the elections in this country that the prohibitive cost of public surveys should be worth all the expense later on.
Anyway, the private survey naturally would become one solid basis for the “amount” of campaign contributions that business groups would give to those tens of thousands of candidates for some 18,000 positions in the 2016 elections.
It seemed that, based on the survey, voter preference in the NCR went like this: Sen. Grace Poe with 31 percent; Vice President Jejomar Binay with 30 percent; and former Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Sen. Miriam Santiago each getting 12 percent.
The question is this: Will such preferences hold through until the elections? Six months is still a long time, and many things can and will still happen—things like disqualification or imprisonment or commitment.
Another public poll, this time done by the world-renowned survey company AGB Nielsen, showed the most trusted pharmaceutical company in the country was newbie “RiteMed.”
In the enormous market for “generic” medicines in the Philippines today, the survey showed RiteMed had already cornered some 60 percent, thus making it the leader in the market for a single brand of medicines.
And what was the business model of RiteMed? Well, aside from having the mother of the leading presidential contender Grace Poe—movie star Susan Roces—as its leading endorser?
As a company in the Unilab group, RiteMed never hid its strategy of focusing on low-priced medicines.
Still, RiteMed came into the market at the right time—when Filipino consumers were starting to pay more attention to healthcare as part of the household budget, alongside food, rent and education.
And its timing could never be more perfect because of the passage of, one, the Generics Act of 1988 and, two, the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008.
The laws actually opened an entirely new market. The local industry already saw a drastic shift in consumer preference, a complete swing toward affordable medicines away from expensive brands.
In a way, RiteMed is now to generic medicines what Mercury Drug is to branded medicines. It is now a household name.
Of FOOD and food
Also recently, a local court ruled against a Singaporean group that has been attacking its own company, the listed food business Alliance Select Foods International (ASFI), known on the ticker tape of the Philippine Stock Exchange as FOOD.
A few months ago, Singaporean minority stockholders of ASFI filed a case against the “stock rights offering” that the company pursued to raise funds for its expansion, arguing that it would dilute their holdings.
Of course, the Singaporeans could also just take part in the stock offering, which would mean that, like the other stockholders, they would have to put up more investments in the business.
The Pasig Regional Trial Court subsequently dismissed their petition, denying them the halt order they asked for. The court said the Singaporeans failed to show the stock rights offering would violate their rights as minority stockholders.
In any country, really, the stock rights offering, as done by listed companies, is just like all those households watching “Aldub.” It is done everyday.
Anyway, what puzzled the stock market was, of all things, why the Singaporeans would want to stop their own company from raising funds.
The Singaporeans even insinuated the Philippine government, meaning, the Aquino (Part II) administration, should be at fault, because it was not diligent enough in protecting the interests of stockholders in listed companies in this country.
To quote the Singaporeans: “Government agencies, the legal system, and private regulators each have a major role in ensuring that companies behave and act responsibly and honestly to their shareholders and the investing public, and should be willing to enforce compliance to these laws and regulations.”
There—the entire government should own the blame for what two stockholders were complaining about, despite their case having been dismissed by the court.
Anyway, the war between the Singaporeans and the management of ASFI has been raging for a few years now.
For example, when ASFI appointed Raymond See as president and CEO, media outfits carried reports the Singaporeans questioned his capability.
Up to today, no wonder, the listed ASFI still has yet to start operations there.
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