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Unexpected holiday present

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BUSINESSMAN Bobby Ongpin received an unexpected gift a couple of days before Christmas when regulatory agencies gave their final approval for his group’s acquisition of 97 percent of Philippine Bank of Communications (PBCom).

The decision of the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Philippine Deposit and Insurance Corp., and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was a timely present for the former trade minister and the man on the Senate’s hot seat—under scrutiny for the alleged behest loans extended to him by the Development Bank of the Philippines.

But wait. Isn’t this so-called “friend of FG” being accused of all sorts of nefarious financial maneuverings by his critics?

If he’s as evil as they say he is, why did three regulators give their approval to this buy-in?

Weren’t his critics peddling (as recently as a few weeks ago) a supposed letter by the SEC chairperson, saying that Ongpin may have committed insider trading? (Incidentally, the central bank—the only financial regulator independent of the Executive Branch, by law—declared the controversial loan “above board,” and was conveniently overlooked by the critics).

As such, we can only surmise that the other two regulators found nothing wrong with Ongpin’s financial activities, as well. Either that or they’re willing to overlook his supposed faults when the government conveniently needs Ongpin’s money to buttress PBCom’s finances.

There’s a term for that kind of behavior. Daxim L. Lucas

PAL homecoming?

IF SAN Miguel Corp.’s Ramon Ang succeeds in grabbing a majority stake in flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL), it will be a homecoming of sorts for an old Lucio Tan executive.

Andrew Hwang is now a ranking officer in the San Miguel group. He was

installed earlier this year as president of San Miguel’s recent acquisition Eastern Telecommunications.

His knowledge of the airline’s ins and outs, which he gained serving as the company’s chief financial officer before being axed, may prove valuable to San Miguel if it wants to steer the airline back to profitability.

His stint with PAL, though, proved to be his undoing. Hwang was booted out of the firm for making a bad fuel hedging decision that cost the airline a staggering $300 million in 2008. Paolo Montecillo

Network PR war

ONCE again, the country’s top broadcast firms are at each other’s throats.

GMA Network Inc. recently lashed out at rival ABS-CBN Corp.’s for trying to chip away the credibility of research firm AGB Nielsen.

GMA bases its claims of ratings superiority mainly on data provided by AGB Nielsen.

But in several statements to the media, ABS-CBN has never failed to remind everyone that the research firm has a “pending” civil case where it stands accused of tampering data and cheating in preparing its ratings reports.

Here’s the catch though:

According to court documents provided by GMA, ABS-CBN’s case against AGB has already been dismissed.

Proof of this was a certificate of finality from the Quezon City Regional Trial Court dated March 21, 2011.

“While ABS-CBN may have business reasons to cite the ratings data of Kantar Media in its ratings releases, we are hoping that you can give

credence to the ruling of the Court, which renders the above mentioned civil case as closed/dismissed,” GMA’s corporate communications consultant Butch Raquel said.

In reply, ABS-CBN said it had appealed the case before the Court of Appeals. Unlike GMA though, the Lopez-led firm failed to show documents as proof, at least as of press time.

In any case, ABS-CBN’s own spokesman Bong Osorio said: “Why is GMA making a comment when it is not party to this case?”

ABS-CBN gets its own ratings data from Kantar Media, which, of course, shows ABS-CBN consistently on the top. Paolo G. Montecillo

Christmas in the air

IN keeping with the festive spirit of the season, budget carrier Cebu Pacific deployed over the holidays a new batch of flight attendants (FAs)

doing the pirouette while demonstrating the plane’s safety features.

This is a different batch from the dancing FAs who shot to YouTube fame in 2010, ahead of the airplane operator’s initial public offering.

This time, passengers of selected flights were treated to FAs dancing to the tune of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”

After the dance number, the FAs reemerged from the cockpit as “elves” accompanying “Santa Claus” in distributing Christmas gifts to the passengers.

Cebu Pacific’s dancing FAs have had other variants in the past, including an all-male edition.

When they first appeared, the performing FAs were widely assumed to be part of a pre-IPO gimmick, as they danced to a mash-up of Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” and Katy Perry’s “California Gurls.” They appeared just as the operator, Cebu Air, held an investor briefing and listing ceremonies at the Philippine Stock Exchange in 2010.

This time around, the airline is just trying to spread good cheer to mark the holidays.

According to Cebu Pacific, the “Christmas on Air” presentations ran last Dec. 15 to 31 in selected flights, with three dancing teams deployed each day.

This limited edition Christmas treat is no longer running, but because the performances have been well documented, the dancing FAs can still be viewed in cyberspace. Doris C. Dumlao

Longer trading day

For many trading participants, today may not be the “Happy New Year” they have come to expect.

They will be working longer trading hours at a time when global sentiment is sluggish.

But the Philippine Stock Exchange board, led by Jose “Titoy” Pardo, believes that this is something that is needed to be enforced, with the aim of aligning the local bourse with the rest of its global peers.

From hereon, the stock market will start trading at 9:30 a.m., pause for lunch at noon, resume trading at 1:30 p.m., and close at 3:30 pm. Doris C. Dumlao

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Tags: Banking , Cebu Pacific , Lucio Tan , new year , Ongpin , Philippine Airlines



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