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Biz Buzz: Yellow discrimination?

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Biz Buzz: Yellow discrimination?

/ 05:17 AM August 07, 2017

Yellow discrimination—the political kind—has been quite prevalent lately, especially in light of the alliances being formed and strengthened among the executive and legislative branches of government. But even in the business community, yellow discrimination—the ethnic kind—apparently exists as well.

Recently, it was reported that key executives of Fujitsu Philippines Inc. appointed a new law firm to represent them in an ongoing estafa case dating back to 2014. Although the exact reason for the change in counsel was not spelled out, there has been quite a lot of speculation surrounding the case, specifically the odd circumstances that led to the charges.

It all started when Fujitsu sold a 20-hectare property at the First Philippine Industrial Park II (FPIP) in Tanauan, Batangas, to Berny Realty and Development Corp. (BDRC) for P150 million. This was done through the help of a brokerage company that witnessed the verbal agreement between the two companies. This was formalized in writing, with BDRC issuing a P30-million down payment not long after.

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All of a sudden, and most inexplicably, Fujitsu refused to execute a deed of absolute sale. Follow-ups were made and even an offer to settle the entire balance, but these all went unheeded. News soon broke out that Fujitsu had sold the property back to FPIP, at a lower price of P110 million. It turns out FPIP allegedly “refused to give its consent to the sale” and, according to reports, did everything they could to pressure Fujitsu into selling the asset back to them.

Sources say the reason for this was simple: FPIP wanted to keep the industrial park “fully Japanese” and were outraged at the prospect of having the Filipino-Chinese-owned BDRC invade its exclusive neighborhood. Indeed, FPIP resold the property to a Japanese firm soon after buying it, thus maintaining the bloodline, so to speak.

Apparently, at FPIP, there are no yellow race—err, rays—allowed; only the red rays from the Land of the Rising Sun. —DAXIM L. LUCAS

Auctioneer comes to Davao
Their clients used to come from all over the country— many from far-flung areas of Mindanao—just to attend their bimonthly auctions of heavy machinery and industrial equipment at the Subic freeport zone.

But starting tomorrow, Tuesday, United Auctioneers Inc., the country’s biggest auction house for trucks and construction equipment, is bringing its services to the south.

Exactly where in the south? Davao City, of course, where all the economic and political action is nowadays.

According to United Auctioneers’ chief Dominic Sytin, the move to the south was a logical one since demand for construction equipment in Mindanao has been on the rise since President Duterte took office last year, an offshoot of his promise to bring infrastructure development to the country’s second-largest island.

A total of 350 lots of wheel loaders, dump trucks, cargo trucks, wing vans, ref vans, aluminum vans, tractor heads, trailers and more, will be sold the the highest bidders (who encompass the whole economic spectrum, from representatives of large construction firms to small businessmen and farmers).

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The auction will be a mini version of what happens every other month in Subic where an average of 2,500 vehicles are sold because Sytin said he wanted to test the market first.

And just like those in Subic, these equipment are brought in used from Japan, reconditioned in United Auctioneers’ workshops and sold to happy customers at a fraction of the prices of brand new units.

Will Sytin’s gambit of moving southward work? He’s betting it will, based on the large number of Mindanao-based buyers who flock to Subic every two months. The most attractive part of the deal? Buyers save on the cost of shipping their heavy equipment to the south. Not a bad deal. —DAXIM L. LUCAS

Oh my gas!
Nope, there’s no IPO in the offing for Seaoil Philippines Inc., the family-run independent oil retailer.

Company president Glenn Yu says Seaoil has the fourth-largest share of the domestic market, citing data from the Department of Energy.

“There is no compelling reason for us [to go public yet],” Yu says of Seaoil, which was founded in 1978, initially offering storage facilities to other companies.

What Seaoil is focused on at the moment is the retail business, which it entered in 1997.

To celebrate the 20th-year mark, Seaoil is offering “lifetime, free” supplies of fuel to four lucky customers who will be picked by raffle. “Free” means up to only P5,000 worth of diesel or gasoline monthly. Lifetime means the winning customer can enjoy the prize for the rest of his or her life.

To join, customers need a minimum P500 worth of purchase of fuel or lubricant—in single or accumulated receipts —equivalent to one entry.

Purchases must be done through cash, credit card, debit card, or Seaoil gift card—in any of Seaoil’s 400 stations nationwide.

Also, a raffle entry includes an instant prize card through which the customer can win discounts of P10, P20, P100 or P500 on fuels and P100 on lubricants.

But wait, there’s more. There are minor raffle prizes, including P10,000 worth of gift cards for each of a total of 30 winners.

The promo period starts on Aug. 14 and ends on Nov. 14. During this period, there will be three monthly raffle draws.
Oh my gas, you don’t know where the nearest Seaoil station is? Aba, i-Google mo! —RONNEL W. DOMINGO

PAL honors
The 2017 Smart Travel Asia “best in travel” survey results are out and the Philippines does make its mark in certain airline and hotel categories.

First, a bit about the survey. It’s not the most high-profile, although Smart Travel Asia does go out of its way to mention, almost comically, that it is an “independent, free and fair poll without nomination fees and gala dinner arm twisting.” It has been conducted since 2004.

Domestic carriers did bag some recognition. Philippine Airlines and Bangkok Airways shared the fourth place out of the top 10 carriers in terms of cabin service (No. 1 went to Singapore Airlines) while Cebu Pacific was No. 5 among the top 10 budget airlines (No. 1 was Jetstar Asia).

Palawan was part of the top 10 holiday destinations while a number of Philippine hotels were also included.

These were Fairmont Makati (business hotel category), The Farm at San Benito (Spa Hotel), El Nido Pangalusian Island in Palawan (Leisure hotel), Amorita Resort in Bohol (Botique hotel), and Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa in Cebu, Solaire Resort and Casino in Manila and Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Cebu (family hotel).

Smart Travel Asia said votes came from its online polling page, social media, guest referrals and even direct reader e-mails.

Given sometimes unreliable feedback associated with online voting (you know who you are), Smart Travel Asia said it blocked “over exuberant” IP addresses and eliminated group votes that ran counter to “normal voting trends.” —MIGUEL R. CAMUS

MPTC relisting
After voluntarily delisting from the stock exchange five years ago, Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., which has an investment spending program of P130.5 billion in the next five years, may reenter the stock market in two years’ time.

If there’s any unit under infrastructure holding firm Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) that will be brought public, it’s MPTC and not the hospital group. And this may happen in 2019, MPIC chief finance officer David Nicol said.

While the general environment for the initial public offering (IPO) of hospitals is positive in any market, Nicol said the group would like to keep the hospital group privately held “to allow more flexibility and set certain negotiating terms.” Now operating 2,900 beds in 13 hospitals, Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings is continuing to look at opportunities to grow its healthcare chain and unlock efficiencies. “They don’t want the distraction of managing public listing,” Nicol said.

“For us, it’s more a question on how we achieve our expansion ambitions particularly in the toll roads side, where we’re putting a lot of capital and how do we fund that? One of those options is the IPO, but I think the funding plans are reasonably set for next year, so 2019, it might be, but it’s driven by what are those funding plans we need,” Nicol added.

Among the new toll roads being built by MPTC is the P21.8-billion, 8-kilometer elevated NLEx-SLEx connector road that is due to start at the end of this year and is targeted for completion in 2021. It has also broken ground for the P19-billion, 44.6-km Cavite Laguna Expressway connecting Cavitex to Biñan, Laguna, which is expected to be delivered by 2020. The P27.9-billion, 8.25-km Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway, a road and bridge connecting Cebu City to Mactan Island via Cordova, is expected to be completed by 2020.

In order to fund its P130.5-billion investment pipeline, however, it is imperative for the group that overdue tariff increases—now ranging between 20 percent and 48 percent on different parts of the network, be implemented. Foregone revenues from delayed tariff adjustments have been estimated at P7 billion from NLEx and Cavitex. The group said it was in “constructive” dialogue with the Duterte administration on how to achieve this. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA

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