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Biz Buzz: Walkout

/ 04:57 AM January 29, 2016

The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) has been getting a lot of heat, more recently for the sorry state of mass transportation in Metro Manila, particularly the Metro Rail Transit Line 3.

Perhaps, hoping to have its own side heard out, DOTC officials led by its Secretary Joseph Abaya paid a visit to the office of a daily newspaper to engage its staff of reporters, editors and columnists in a lively discussion on this hot topic, among many other items.

Lively, things truly got. We heard from our own sources that there was some rather fierce questioning by the paper’s columnists who were, of course, only doing their jobs.

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Abaya was apparently calm throughout, answering the items patiently.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said for one of the government guests during the discussion. Saying the comments thrown at them were “foul,” this official took his things and stormed out of the room.

Dramatic, yes, but we could only imagine it was a tense situation over a complex problem that cannot be pinned on any single person or entity.

To help get its word out, we should also mention that it might be a good idea for the DOTC to hire a new spokesperson. There has been no replacement yet since last year’s departure of Michael Sagcal, who bravely served for several years. Is there anyone out there with the courage to take on this very noble task? Because other media outfits want to invite DOTC officials for question-and-answer sessions as well. And who knows how those will turn out? Miguel R. Camus

Bowing out

AFTER previously leaving day-to-day management of seafood producer Alliance Select Foods International (ASFI), businessman Jonathan Dee is now likewise stepping down as company chair. In fact, he is even giving up his board seat in order to pursue other “personal” interests.

“I believe he wants to be freed up to be even more involved in his other personal investments and endeavors. Dee feels it is the most opportune time to pass on the baton,” a company source intimated.

Whether or not this departure is in any way related to Dee’s lingering squabble with some feisty Singaporean shareholders—who are critical of how the food company is being run—the official narrative is that Dee is uber-confident that the new management team led by president Raymond See can fill his shoes.

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The source said Dee is indeed now comfortable to leave “his baby” to See’s “able” and “professional” hands and henceforth focus on other personal ventures. One of the new things on Dee’s post-Alliance pipeline is a project to provide assistance to Mountain Province farmers.  His advocacy is to help motivate these farmers into preserving their organic rice breed production.

So who’s taking over as Alliance chair?  It will likely be left vacant until the next shareholders meeting. As the trusted steward, See’s mandate is to focus on improving the company’s corporate governance and profitability amid international competition as well as legal/word war with the Singaporean shareholders.  Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Speaking of which…

BIZ BUZZ learned that the CEOs of foreign banks which have Philippine operations are all on edge nowadays.

And no, it’s not because of any financial market upheaval but, like the rest of the local banking system, everyone is ready for external shocks and are well provisioned against nasty surprises. And neither are they on edge because of any personal scandals because they’re all smart enough to keep things discreet (if you know what we mean).

Instead, their worries are purely for professional reasons—specifically, the kind that concerns their careers as bankers.

We learned that, since late last year, a top-end headhunter has been making the rounds and calling up senior bankers, asking if they are interested in assuming the top post of a foreign bank currently operating in the country. Note that this foreign bank is not a new entrant and already has a local presence (either in corporate banking or investment banking, we hear, depending on who’s talking).

Why the search for a new CEO? Well, word around Ayala Ave. is that this foreign bank wants to make a bigger splash in the local scene and, as such, is looking for fresh talent who will shake things up.

This desire to make a bigger splash locally (and the rest of Asia), we hear, is partly because this foreign bank needs to offset its losses from its European and North American operations incurred at the height of the global financial crisis in the previous decade. Obviously, they’re still hurting from it.

In any case, the suspicion among banking insiders is that this bank that’s scouting for a new local head is Europe-based. And more interestingly, the bosses overseas have ordered the headhunter that the search be conducted only among Filipino banking talents. No expats needed here.

Of course, if you’re a senior banker and interested in moving up the corporate ladder (of another bank)—and if you know who this headhunter is—please note that only the best and the brightest are being tapped. Those with less than sterling credentials need not apply.

And naturally, if you’re the current head of the Philippine operations of a foreign bank, and you haven’t been the subject of a poaching attempt, perhaps it would be wise to start taking stock of your options. You’ll never know if this headhunter means to find a replacement for … uhmm … you.  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: Department of Transportation and Communications, DoTC, Joseph Emilio Abaya, LRT1, LRT2, Metro Manila traffic, MRT3, Secretary Abaya, traffic
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