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BBB: Businessman’s Brazilians in Beijing

/ 01:44 AM October 24, 2016

In business, it’s always good to be opportunistic especially if one is in a position of leadership in the company. How else would one make money for one’s shareholders if he is too slow to spot opportunities, right?

Some businessmen, however, are equally opportunistic in work and play. And when we say “play,” we’re not talking about the wholesome variety.

Take, for example, this company owner who is a young, would-be tycoon. He joined the business delegation of President Duterte’s state visit to China last week and wasted no time enjoying the local “sights.”


You see, on the first night of the President’s trip, a number of attractive, modelesque ladies suddenly showed up at the lobby of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Beijing, an upscale hotel in an upscale part of the city, a stone’s throw from Tiananmen Square.

These women—a few of whom were heard speaking Portuguese (ergo, Brazilian beauties?) were dressed in … clubbing attire, which is to say, revealing tops, short skirts and killer high heels.

They must have heard from the grapevine that there was a 400-strong delegation of the Philippines’ wealthiest people coming to the hotel. And perhaps the Brazilian beauties were betting that a number of them would come without their spouses (shopping choices in the Chinese capital are, after all, somewhat limited).

Two of these ladies did not escape the opportunistic eyes of one young would-be tycoon who promptly chatted them up at the hotel lobby. We don’t think he minded the stares he was getting from other businessmen, neither did the two ladies he was with. One minute they were at the lobby enjoying a smoke, the next minute they were gone. Where they disappeared to, no one knows except the three of them.

Of course, we can’t begrudge this young businessman for his appetite for risk. After all, his risk-taking has made him a peso billionaire and it also caused his publicly listed firm to be probed by authorities for stock price manipulation (from which he seems to have emerged unscathed). By the way, he is a risk taker, too, when it comes to fashion and his signature sartorial style.

The question is … were other businessmen in the delegation taking as much risks with the local flavor as him? Interesting. —Daxim L. Lucas

Speaking of which …

The lobby of Beijing’s Grand Hyatt Hotel became a big hangout place, of sorts, for Filipino businessmen hoping to see and be seen by President Duterte as he moved in and out of the hotel during his four-day state visit.


Some businessmen and government officials conducted last-minute negotiations at the lobby before the deals were signed under the auspices of the President. Some businessmen hung out with senators, congressmen and government officials, while some who were billeted at nearby hotels came to the Hyatt for its popular Peking duck restaurant.

One such person was banker Wick Veloso, country CEO of HSBC Philippines. Veloso and some of his friends would walk over from the adjacent hotel to enjoy the Hyatt’s restaurants, but he was unprepared for what greeted him: A number of Filipinos based in Beijing approached him to have their “selfies” taken with him. Veloso—who did not think he was popular in China—learned the real reason later when some of his fans called him “Bato.”

That’s because Veloso shares the same build as Philippine National Director General Ronaldo “Bato” dela Rosa, the same height, same facial features, and  same smooth heads (ok, we admit, Veloso has more fuzz on his head). The HSBC head as the Bato of banking?

There was another doppelgänger pair on the trip in the persons of presidential special assistant Christopher “Bong” Go and Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap, but people have been confusing them for  longer so as to know by now who is whom.

As for Veloso, he quickly excused himself from the selfie-seeking crowd, which then promptly focused their attention on the real Bato—the real selfie rockstar. —Daxim L. Lucas


Telco upside

A court battle between the antitrust regulator and telco giants PLDT and Globe Telecom has yet to be resolved—but that doesn’t meant investors should stay on the sidelines.

In fact, financial services giant HSBC is betting the Philippine Competition Commission would most likely lose the case, which was suggested in its October 2016 research note to investors.

Referring to the PCC’s questioning of PLDT and Globe Telecom’s joint acquisition of San Miguel Corp.’s telco unit on May 30, HSBC said “it now looks less likely that this will be blocked.”

HSBC said the deal, mainly targeting SMC’s unused telco frequencies especially those in the 700 Megahertz band, was beneficial for both players since this would allow them to rapidly improve capacity and coverage.

Between PLDT and Globe, the former was preferred partly because of its larger spectrum holdings and the fact that it had less subscribers on data. Said another way, there was much more room for growth (also because Globe spotted this shift to data much earlier).

Speaking of growth, both also had room in that area in terms of their share price. HSBC said PLDT had a target price of P2,200 a share while Globe has a P2,100 target.

Considering PLDT was last valued at P1,645 a share and Globe at P1,892, investors have to figure out whether it’s a risk worth taking. —Miguel R. Camus



Power supply issue

In this day and age when big companies can run rings around regulators, can the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) stay several steps ahead of energy players to ensure tight competition in the power sector?

Take the case of the country’s largest power distributor, Manila Electric Co., which on the surface is asking approval from the ERC for power supply agreements from seven different power companies: Atimonan One Energy; Redondo Peninsula Energy; St. Raphael Power Generation Corp.; Central Luzon Premiere Power Corp.; Mariveles Power Generation Corp.; Panay Energy Development Corp., and Global Energy Development Corp.

But our Buzzard noted that  buried under the fine print of its thick pile of application papers was Meralco’s sizable interests in six of these proposed suppliers: 100 percent of Atimonan; 47 percent in Redondo; 40 percent in St. Raphael; 49 percent  in Mariveles Power; 56 percent in Panay Energy, and 56 percent in Global Energy.

This begs the question: Did Meralco buy into the power suppliers before they firmed up their arrangements?

Our Buzzard is asking if the ERC will dig deeper into the ownership structure of these power suppliers or will it just stand by Meralco’s assurance that these power supple agreements were done after extensive negotiations.

Take the case of  St. Raphael: Meralco told the Philippine Stock Exchange on April 28, 2016, that Meralco Powergen, its wholly owned subsidiary, had entered a joint-venture agreement with Semirara Mining and Power Corp. on a 700-megawatt  coal plant in Calaca, Batangas, dubbed St. Raphael. Just 24 hours later, Meralco and St. Raphael filed a joint application for a power supply agreement before the ERC.

Is ERC Chair Jose Vicente B. Salazar up to the task of looking deeper into the circumstances that led to Meralco owning a substantial stake in its future power suppliers instead of just determining whether the power rates they agreed on were fair or not?

Our Buzzard thinks that Salazar is just overmatched to handle this probe and will need the Philippine Competition Commission’s resources to mount a  top-to-bottom probe. Unlike the ERC, the newly minted anti-trust body has already made reputation as fearless when it dared to block the PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom’s buyout of San Miguel’s telco business, which could have been a potential third player in the market duopoly.  —Gil Cabacungan

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TAGS: Batangas, Beijing, Business, business delegation, Calaca, China, ERC, Grand Hyatt Hotel, joint venture agreement, Jose Vicente B. Salazar, Meralco PowerGen, Philippine Stock Exchange, power supply, President Duterte, Rodrigo Duterte, Semirara Mining and Power Corp., St. Raphael
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