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Biz buzz: Four Ws sign multibillion-dollar deal

/ 12:52 AM October 31, 2016

It was the start of the long All Saints’ Day weekend and most executives were on their way to four-day vacations either locally or overseas. But that didn’t stop the Tieng family’s All-Asia Resources and Reclamation Corp. (ARRC) from holding signing ceremonies for their latest project—a massive reclamation project just off Manila Bay and adjacent to Cavite’s Sangley Point.

The ambitious project, if it pushes through, will be the new home of a two-runway international airport, a large container seaport (bigger than the current Manila International Container Terminal of ports tycoon Enrique Razon Jr.) and a special economic zone for manufacturing activities.

And to raise the curtains on this project, the Tiengs also invited some members of the press (many of whom were also pulled away from their vacations). But it was newsworthy, given that the proposed project would be a multibillion-dollar undertaking that would help decongest Metro Manila’s main transportation systems, specifically the air and seaports, as well as easing vehicular traffic by virtue of being located on the fringes of the metropolis.

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The first phase will be the airport, which is the most urgent need of Metro Manila, according to ARRC president and CEO Wilson Tieng, who was joined at the event by his brothers William and Willy.

The Tieng brothers conceded that the project was too big for them to handle by themselves so they brought in a new partner, which would help them develop the mega infrastructure endeavor. And what better partner for Wilson, William and Willy to bring in than another ‘W’, specifically another ‘Willy’? We’re talking about Willy Ocier, of course, who is the vice chair of leisure and gaming firm Belle Corp., which is backed by the financial muscle of the retail and property empire of tycoon Henry Sy Sr.

If that’s not enough, the Tiengs said they were also open to joining hands with other would-be partners—especially conglomerates—who might want to have a stake in the massive deal.

“We want to make sure that there will be no jealousy, so we want to bring in other partners,” William Tieng said.

If you think a reclamation project of this kind would take forever to complete, think again. The Chinese firm they are partnering with is none other than China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC), which is the same firm that dredged and reclaimed the islands in the West Philippine Sea in record time, on one of which an airport was built, no less.

As for the Saturday afternoon signing ceremony and press briefing that was called on short notice, the Tiengs had a simple and traditional explanation, it’s proximity notwithstanding to the day reserved for honoring the departed: “Feng shui. This is an auspicious day for us.” That explains it. —Daxim L. Lucas

SEC in Muntinlupa

After a string of partnerships with shopping mall developers to put up satellite offices, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) hatched a pioneering team-up with Muntinlupa City to open such a satellite office in Muntinlupa City Hall.

SEC Chair Teresita Herbosa, Muntinlupa Mayor Jaime Fresnedi and other local executives signed a memorandum of agreement on Oct. 27 for the establishment of the SEC satellite office.

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In a text message, Herbosa cited this as the “first LGU-SEC partnership to bring SEC frontline services to the public in the Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) area.”

The SEC’s satellite offices offer simplified company registration services such as verification of proposed corporate names and pre-processing of registration applications. For those whose companies are already registered and existing, they can handle pre-processing of amendment applications as well as monitoring and receiving of reportorial requirements. The SEC has so far opened four satellite offices in Metro Manila (Ali Mall, Robinsons Galleria and SM North Edsa) and one in Cebu.

During the signing ceremonies, Herbosa applauded Fresnedi’s leadership in streamlining business registration processes and heralding Muntinlupa to be one of the leading investment hubs in the country.

This isn’t expected to be the last of such LGU partnerships with the SEC as the corporate watchdog boosts efforts to declog activities at its head office and make it easier to do business in the country. With more enterprises now looking at Mindanao, expect SEC satellite offices to rise in southern Philippines. —Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Good news for ABS-CBN, Skycable

ABS-CBN Corp. seems to be having a good first nine-months, no small thanks to that big election ad boost coming in the first half.

And TV advertising is naturally up this year, some are also looking into the group’s efforts into digital broadband, via Skycable. Their most recent figures indicate a still robust business, in sync with an ongoing digital shift in the country—and the rest of the world.

Skycable has also been aggressively marketing broadband home bundles with its flagship cable TV product. The former might not be as good in terms of margins nowadays, but subscribers do see value in having a cable TV service bundled in.

Skycable’s total broadband subscriber base was up 50 percent in the first nine months to 193,000 subscribers. Of course, that’s relatively small compared to the big sums we see with the telcos, but nevertheless it signals strong demand.

We hear the Skycable group— from pay TV subscribers to broadband—would breach a million subscribers in 2016, up 40 percent over last year. Not bad, for a cable TV service born all the way in the early 1990s. —Miguel R. Camus

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TAGS: ABS-CBN, All-Asia Resources and Reclamation Corp., ARRC, CCCC Ltd., China Communications Construction Co., Manila Bay reclamation, SEC, Securities and Exchange Commission, SkyCable, Teresita Herbosa, Tieng family, Willy Ocier, Wilson Tieng
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