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Biz Buzz: ‘Kapitan’ joins airport fray

02:17 AM June 05, 2017

Some realignment is shaping up at the Solar Group-led consortium All-Asia Resources and Reclamation Corp. (ARRC), which has put on the table a $20-billion unsolicited proposal to construct an airport and seaport in Sangley Point, Cavite.

Talks are underway for tycoon Lucio Tan to buy into the consortium backed by Solar Group’s Wilson Tieng and Henry Sy. To date, the Solar group has a majority stake in the project while Sy family-led Belle has a 49-percent interest.

Known as ‘Kapitan’ or ‘Kap’ to his friends and associates, Tan’s interest in the Sangley project comes as no surprise since his group controls flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL).

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There were rumors that the SM/Belle group is selling out to Kapitan but when we asked for an official comment, a spokesperson said: “No plans to sell.” The SM group earlier explained that for them, the interest in this project is part of a property play. Apart from the rehabilitation of the Danilo Atienza Airport in Sangley, the consortium seeks to reclaim about 2,500 hectares to serve as the site for a new international air gateway, seaport and industrial zone.

Whether or not it will be a buy in or a buy out deal (some sources insist that SM is rethinking its participation in the project), what seems clear is that Kapitan wouldn’t want to be left out in the scramble for airport infrastructure.

Still, the question is which among the many options on the table will the government pursue to address Metro Manila’s need for a more modern, spacious and efficient aviation system.

Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. has a separate proposal to build a new airport in Bulacan, where the local government unit is perceived to be more receptive, amending its earlier plan to build a new aviation hub along the CyberBay reclamation area.

Some also advocate the redevelopment of Clark. One such offer was submitted by construction and engineering firm Megawide Construction Corp., which now runs Mactan International Airport in partnership with Indian firm GMR. The Filinvest group, meanwhile, teamed up with the Gokongwei group to submit an offer to redevelop CIA. Other groups like Metro Pacific have likewise expressed interest on the project.

On the other hand, conglomerate Ayala Corp. favors the redevelopment of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) to expand capacity and make it a more suitable main gateway for the metropolis. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA

Salvage value

We can only imagine that it was a bittersweet decision for businessman Roberto “Bobby” Ongpin to make.

We’re talking about last Friday’s sale of his last remaining stake in his corporate baby, Philweb Corp., to Gregorio “Greggy” Araneta III, thus ending a difficult chapter in the firm that was singled out by no less than President Duterte for … well, there’s no other way to put it… destruction.

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Recall that, last year, hoping to save what little was left of the company’s value after the administration refused to renew its license for its electronic gaming outlets, Ongpin bit the bullet and sold his majority stake in Philweb to Araneta at P2.60 apiece. For a total consideration of P2 billion, Ongpin surrendered control of the firm that was worth over P35 billion only a few weeks before —before the President trained his sights on the supposed “oligarch,” that is.

Anyway, last Friday, Ongpin completed the transaction, which he began last year, disposing of his last remaining tranche of shares to Araneta. The total consideration was P308.1 million, representing 118.5 million shares sold at the P2.60 price pre-agreed last year.

That must have been doubly painful for Ongpin, given that the share price of Philweb—the one firm he focused most of his business acumen to build (and by one account, the one firm where not a single one of his partners or stakeholders ended up aggrieved)—had risen sharply since his departure.

In fact, as of last Friday, Philweb’s share price on the bourse stood at P11.58 apiece, meaning that, had the price been agreed upon last week, he should have been taking home P1.26 billion instead of a measly P308.1 million.

To further rub salt on the wound (though it is clearly not Araneta’s intention), Biz Buzz understands that there’s a strong chance that Philweb will once more be able to vie for licenses from Pagcor when revised rules on electronic gaming are promulgated by the regulator.

Now that would really hurt the businessman’s ego in Ongpin. On the upside, salvaging P2 billion from his former firm isn’t bad. Given how upset the President was with him last year, it could have been worse. A lot worse. —DAXIM L. LUCAS

Speaking of which …

With Philweb out of the way, Ongpin is now focused on the operations of his other baby, Alphaland Corp. and its popular members-only island resort, Balesin. But there is one particular service offered by Alphaland to its members that has been generating a lot of buzz, of late, among its well-heeled members.

We’re talking about the Aegle Wellness Center, which has clinics at the Alphaland City Club in Makati City as well as on Balesin Island.

Of course, Aegle—according to its promotional brochures— offers services “to facilitate [the member’s] journey toward optimum wellness” through the use of “detoxification” and “regenerative treatments.” Sounds innocent and innocuous enough. But one aspect of Aegle’s service offerings is said to be popular among a certain demographic. In fact, some of its more senior clients swear that some treatments make them feel younger, more energetic and … well… let’s just say a number of them will attest to having dramatically improved libido levels after the treatments.

In particular, one treatment offered by Aegle’s chief doctor involves applying a form of topical hormone cream to certain parts of the male anatomy (the antecubital fossa or the crook of the elbows, the space behind the knees, and the area behind the scrotum … yes, we’re not kidding).

“You feel like a young man,” exclaimed someone familiar with the treatment.

Needless to say, this is one of the most popular offerings of the wellness center, having so far won many converts and loyal customers. But please don’t take our word for it. —DAXIM L. LUCAS

Naia Ex… complete

Many Metro Manila motorists would readily agree that the Naia Expressway Phase II public private partnership project is a godsend.

So it was with great pride that San Miguel Corp. president Ramon Ang formally inaugurated the 7.7-kilometer toll road last Thursday. Recall that SMC won the PPP back under President Aquino’s term. It was opened September last year, although partially.

So enthusiastic was Ang that he even decided to drive himself and key government officials during the traditional drive through that accompanies inauguration events like these.

Ang, one of the country’s richest men, is known for his legendary collection of very rare and very expensive cars.

Last Thursday, his automobile of choice was the relatively humble Toyota Hilux pick-up truck.

The guests ferried by the billionaire-chauffeur were Mark Villar (Department of Public Works and Highways), Arthur Tugade (Department of Transportation) and Benjamin Diokno (Department of Budget and Management).

Perhaps the most peculiar aspect of the inauguration was its 11:00 p.m. call time. Some joked: Was it a midnight deal? ( it really wasn’t).

Turns out, the government officials simply wanted to cause as little inconvenience to motorists. Good thinking for a great project. —MIGUEL R. CAMUS

Digital Makati

Makati City, home to the Philippines’s financial district, went digital last week via separate partnerships with PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom. It started with the launch of the Makatizen card, a valid government ID, that will allow residents and city employees to do a host of digital transactions.

The Makatizen card is a partnership between Makati, Globe Telecom, its unit G-Xchange and iBayad Online Ventures.

Its key feature is allowing card holders to transact with the city government such as paying fees and taxes, without relying on cash. They can also receive allowances, stipends or other cash benefits. It likewise doubles as an ATM card.

Since it is linked to Globe’s online wallet, holders can use the Makatizen card to do even small transactions. A live demo showed how one can just “tap and go” to buy fish balls from street vendors.

Later in the week, PLDT’s Voyager Innovations partnered with Makati for the Makatizen app, which was rolled out initially for Android phones. This will come with a different set of lifestyle and business services for Makati residents.

Among these, “MakaRide,” which allows users to instantly book a ride on Makati’s shuttle service (initially available for Makati government employees), an online shopping store (powered by Voyager’s Takatack) and business information for those wanting to set up shop in Makati.

These services are well and good but the telcos have another, primary interest here. After all, good relations with the local government units are crucial in dealing with another major issue for PLDT and Globe: Bottlenecks in the maze of permits required by city governments.

Embedded in these agreements are ways that would ease the regulatory burden, we were told. Sounds as close to a win-win solution as can be managed. Hopefully, other LGUs follow suit. —MIGUEL R. CAMUS

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