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Biz Buzz: ‘Corporate ghost’

It would seem that the leadership of the Philippine Stock Exchange has had it with the “excuses” (their word, not ours) of one particular listed firm whose shares were suspended from active trading last year for the firm’s alleged non-compliance with corporate rules.

We’re talking, of course, about Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp. on which the PSE cracked its whip in 2016 because—according to bourse officials—the newspaper firm’s 50-year corporate life had expired in 2009 and it had not been renewed.

What? How could that be? Well, the PSE officials are puzzled themselves, but they said they have been coordinating with the Securities and Exchange Commission where their counterparts are similarly puzzled.

“If their corporate life expired in 2009, and it hasn’t been renewed, what are they selling on the exchange?” the official asked. “What are its investors buying and selling if the company, technically, doesn’t exist?”

To stress it’s point, Biz Buzz learned that the PSE is set to make its issue against the listed publishing firm formal and public through an announcement set to be published immediately. The idea, of course, is to protect the investing public, some of whom may still be holding Bulletin shares.

We’re talking about 3.4 billion shares, roughly worth P2 billion cumulatively, some 22 percent of which is in the hands of small investors.

This amount is peanuts in the broader scheme of things, but the PSE leadership believes leaving an offense like this unpunished would undermine the integrity of the bourse.

On the part of the Bulletin, we understand that its high-powered lawyers have been in touch with the PSE and argued that the publishing firm owned by the Yap family actually renewed its corporate life in 1989—a decade before it was to expire—and raising some disbelieving eyebrows in the PSE boardroom.

So, what now? We hear the PSE is contemplating imposing a hefty fine on Manila Bulletin which, ironically, celebrated its 117th anniversary last week. Somehow, we suspect no PSE officials were invited to the party —DAXIM L. LUCAS

Seat sale madness

Cebu Pacific’s famed P1 seat sale resurfaced last week, much to the delight—and perhaps frustration—of an army of budget travelers.

We say frustration because many failed to get their desired bookings. For quite a number, the Cebu Pacific app was prone to failure, so they shifted to the website, which in turn slowed down significantly. Cebu Pacific nevertheless vowed a better experience next time.

These seat sales are massively popular because of the huge discounts customers receive. Apart from the published base fare of P1, customers still shoulder other costs like terminal fees and taxes. Even then, savings can be in the thousands of pesos per ticket. For example, Cebu Pacific said Manila to Sydney, Australia, tickets could be had for as low as P2,200—when normal rates or even legacy carrier rates are multiples of that amount.

The travel dates are also limited to the so-called lean travel period. That didn’t stop lucky flyers from snagging their dream vacation at a bargain. The promo was sold out in hours.

Despite some of the negative feedback, the event underscored the barriers the budget airline industry knocked down in terms of providing affordable air travel. All of this aided by technology.

Biz Buzz sources said the seat sale, launched 12 a.m., Friday, caused internet traffic at the Cebu Pacific website to spike 10 times the normal figure. Cebu Pacific’s facebook page was littered with both happy and upset customers.

Among the happiest was Jamie De Jesus, who with great patience managed to snag an envious haul: Seven tickets to Singapore, three tickets to Hong Kong and three tickets to Macau.

De Jesus, who shared his booking conquests online, told Biz Buzz his Singapore tickets were for a leg of an upcoming group trip across Southeast Asia while others were booked for friends.

Apparently, the desire to travel was “always” present, he noted. But for airline operators, take note: There appears little room for loyalty in this industry.

“If there’s a promo, then [I’ll book] regardless of the airline,” De Jesus said. —MIGUEL R. CAMUS

Tax campaign

President Duterte may have had tagged the bureaus of Internal Revenue and of Customs as among the most corrupt government agencies, but he will still grace important events of the country’s two biggest tax-collection bodies this week.

Today, the President and Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez are the special guests in the BIR’s annual kickoff for its Large Taxpayers Service (LTS) collection campaign.

As such, the top executives of the country’s largest corporations—some of them to be recognized for paying the correct (and the biggest amount of) taxes, would get a chance to get up close and personal with the President.

Internal Revenue Commissioner Billy Dulay earlier told Biz Buzz that they were hoping that President Duterte could attend the LTS kickoff as such would not only bolster morale among BIR personnel but also enjoin large firms to be tax-compliant (or else …).

On Wednesday, the President and Dominguez will also attend the BOC’s awarding of its best-performing collection districts as well as the presentation of its achievements as part of its weeklong 115th founding anniversary celebration.

The Duterte administration thus far has been quite business-friendly and last month’s get-together with the country’s tycoons showed that the President also listens to (most of) them.

But we also all know that the President could be candid in his remarks, so it will interesting to listen to what he would tell BIR and BOC stakeholders as well as the business community, especially with regards tax collections. —BEN O. DE VERA

‘Golden Kubeta’ winners named

If you want to answer the call of nature, you may want to do it in style.

And netizens have issued their verdict, the best places to do just that are Petron station on E. Rodriguez, Park ‘N Ride Lawton and De La Salle University in Manila.

These were the three winners of the Golden Kubeta Awards given out by water distributor Maynilad Water Services Inc.

In November 2016, Maynilad launched #GoldenKubetaPH, a social media contest that recognizes the best public restrooms in the Philippines.

Maynilad collaborated with online publisher When In Manila for the campaign as one way to promote hygiene and sanitation best practices. More than 720,000 social media users were reached and over a hundred entries were received.

The winners were announced last month during the Golden Kubeta Awards that sought to recognize the country’s best and cleanest toilets. All 12 finalists exemplified cleanliness, accessibility, functionality and responsible water and wastewater management.

Through this campaign, Maynilad aims to entertain and educate Filipinos to give value to water, sanitation and health through clean toilets. This also underscores the importance of reliable water and wastewater services to everyone’s lives. —TINA ARCEO-DUMLAO

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