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Biz Buzz: Breaking free

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After years of toiling away as one of the most effective lieutenants in the Philippine business scene, this former government official (who also used to be a deputy in the department he once served) is ready to make his bold leap into a venture where he himself will be the Numero Uno guy.

According to our sources, this businessman is all set to take control of a local bank that was acquired recently by his uncle.

Under the plan, the soon-to-be Numero Uno will buy out his uncle’s shares in the bank (using the sizable stash he’s accumulated in recent years, we’re told) and will soon be appointed chair of the bank (where he is currently, again, a deputy).

To boost the fortunes of the bank he will soon run, soon-to-be Numero Uno has also locked in the commitment of some of his closest de buena familia friends, one of whom already plunked in a load of money in the venture recently.

The biggest challenge to Mr. soon-to-be Numero Uno’s upcoming move, however, is securing the green light from his current boss, for whom he runs a large petroleum concern.

Well, to no one’s surprise, the big boss gave him the go signal to wear two hats simultaneously, heading both large corporations (a huge challenge in itself).

We’re told he will be spending his mornings in one head office and then shuttle to his other head office in the afternoons at another central business district.

Our sources say that the announcement of this person’s appointment as bank chair is imminent and may, in fact, be made in the next few days. Clue: He was on Forbes’ recent list as one of the country’s richest men (something he vehemently denies).—Daxim L. Lucas

Turning Kapuso

Last week’s excitement over the natural gas reserves said to be contained at Recto Bank has lifted shares of all companies affiliated with the First Pacific group of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, who has recently been besieged with invitations for meetings with top oil/gas companies and trading firms in China (all of whom want to get involved in the gas prospect, of course).

The potential resources, after all, are said to be bigger than those of the Malampaya project.

Shares of broadcasting giant GMA Network and its Philippine depositary receipts likewise traded extraordinarily in the last two sessions as stock pundits could smell that MVP is about to close the GMA 7 deal pretty soon.

With the windfall from recent shares valuation, MVP is seen to be in a better position to give in to the P50-60 billion asking price range of the Jimenez-Gozon-Duavit triumvirate controlling GMA 7.

A source from the MVP group agreed: “I could sense that a deal is forthcoming.”

But those who are closely monitoring developments at GMA 7 are now wondering whether the price range accounts for the broadcasting firm’s 1.5 billion in outstanding convertible preferred shares that carry five times voting rights than common shares but are convertible to common shares at par at a ratio of 1:1.

GMA 7 now has 3.3 billion preferred shares, which may be expanded to 4.8 billion if these preferred shares were converted to common shares, potentially complicating things if these were to be included in the deal.

Sources said, however, that these preferred shares are “not a deal-breaker” for MVP.—Doris C. Dumlao

6-0, says Frank Chavez

There seems to be no end to the tit-for-tat exchange between lawyer Frank Chavez and longtime nemesis “The Firm.”

The latest round went to the former solicitor general when The Firm’s damage suit against him was dismissed by Branch 150 of the Makati Regional Trial Court.

In its decision, the court basically said that The Firm was engaged in forum shopping when it filed multiple libel complaints, which abused court processes and “tends to degrade the administration of justice.”

“Thus, forum-shopping is deemed to exist and, on this basis, the summary dismissal of both actions is indeed warranted,” said the court.

All the complaints could have properly been brought as a collective suit considering that all partners were supposedly acting for and on behalf of The Firm, the court said.

Of the 10 libel complaints filed against Chavez by The Firm, four have already been dismissed. One perjury case was dismissed, and one libel complaint filed in Bohol is now the subject of a petition for transfer of venue.

As such, the score-keeping Chavez says—with gusto—that the score now is 6-0 in his favor.—Daxim L. Lucas

And The Firm says…

“The only 6 we are aware of is the number of years he will be in jail for the criminal case we filed against him,” said one of The Firm’s partners.

“Remember, we only have to send him to jail once, and we are in the process of doing that since he is out of jail only because he posted bail,” the partner added. “In the meantime, his bail mug shot and ‘piano’ fingerprints are a source of great laughter in The Firm.”

Whoa.—Daxim L. Lucas

That DragonBall Z hair

After Calata Corp. obtained approval from the Philippine Stock Exchange to list on its second board, the company’s 31-year-old chief executive officer Joseph Calata faced potential investors on Friday sporting a DragonBall Z hairdo.

Calata has grown the agriculture product started by his parents into a company with P2 billion in turnover since taking over the business after he graduated in 2001. And as he turned out to be young and good-looking, some investors (especially the ladies) were interested not just in his business but also in his relationship status.

During the Q&A after the company presentation, a lady in the audience asked if he’s married, to which he replied in the negative. But sorry girls, the businessman is now dating actress Niña Jose.

Speaking of that DragonBall Z hair, it literally caused the delay in the PSE’s approval of Calata’s IPO as some traditional people from the exchange favored the more traditional appearance.

The PSE also ordered Calata to scrap the secondary portion of its offering, which was why the final offering size was halved to 36 million or P270 million worth of shares at a maximum price of P7.50 a share. But sources said it was okay because the Calatas didn’t need the proceeds from the secondary portion of the offering anyway and that all IPO proceeds will henceforth go to the company itself for expansion.

Sources said the PSE would soon make it a policy for all companies listing on the second board—reserved for firms smaller than those on the main board but with “superior growth” and a market cap of at least P250 million—to only offer primary shares. This is to better protect investors from those who want to turn the local market into their own ATMs.—Doris C. Dumlao

Big Boy’s third movie

Business magnate Henry Sy Jr., aka Big Boy, who also dabbles into movie production as part of SM Development Corp.’s subtle advertising strategy, is now making plans to co-produce his next movie after “Who’s That Girl” and “Tween Academy.”

Big Boy said the next movie would again star Anne Curtis, SMDC’s image model and star of SMDC’s first silver screen production “Who’s That Girl” (co-produced with Viva) last year (“Tween Academy” was co-produced with GMA Films).

The next movie will be shown in the second half of the year, Big Boy said, and will showcase the lifestyle-oriented features of SMDC’s residential developments. Big Boy has yet to decide, however, who Curtis’ leading man will be.—Doris C. Dumlao

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Tags: Bank , Business , film , Frank Chavez , Henry Sy Jr. , Joseph Calata , Manuel V. Pangilinan , oil and gas – upstream activities , People , Television , The Firm



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