Biz Buzz: Manolo’s swan songBy the staff
Philippine Daily Inquirer
When shareholders of Manila Electric Co. gather for their annual meeting this May 29, it will be the last time Ambassador Manolo Lopez, 69, will address them as chair. Lopez was chair and chief executive officer of Meralco until 2010, when the First Pacific group bought out most of the Lopezes’ stake and installed Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) as the new CEO.
Lopez has kept the chairmanship for two years.
MVP said last week that the matter of chairmanship and appointment of new CEO would be up to the new board which, in turn, would be elected during the upcoming stockholders’ meeting. While Lopez tried very hard to attend board meetings, MVP said, the Philippine ambassador to Japan had to spend a lot of time overseas and thus indicated his desire to step down.
From the time MVP’s group invested in Meralco, the intention had been to separate the functions of chair and CEO. And with Lopez’s retirement, MVP affirmed that there will be changes during the organizational meeting after the next Meralco stockholders’ meeting.
The post of chair is expected to be filled by MVP, of course.
Asked if there’s someone already primed to take over the post of CEO, MVP answered in the affirmative, but said it would be best to wait for the reorganizational meeting.
Biz Buzz asked around and found out that the succession is the most natural one. Three sources privy to Meralco said Oscar Reyes, 64, the company’s chief operating officer and former country chair of the Shell group of companies, is next in line to the 65-year-old MVP.
Meanwhile, MVP’s group stated last week that it was not keen on buying more shares in excess of 50 percent (its holdings now stand at around 48 percent) because it would trigger a tender offer to shareholders. The group wants to avoid this procedure because of MVP’s current ownership structure in the utility. Thus it seems that the famous “frenemies” will be stuck in the same boardroom for quite some time.—Doris C. Dumlao
‘For health reasons’
As correctly predicted by Biz Buzz recently, a change of leadership did happen at the National Economic and Development Authority, with economist Cayetano “Dondon” Paderanga Jr. surrendering the helm of the agency to fellow UP economist Arsenio Balisacan over the weekend.
Of course, not a few eyebrows were raised when the Palace cited “health reasons” for Paderanga’s departure, given that it has become a much-abused “euphemism” in recent years. It is used whenever unwanted Cabinet members are “let go” (read: fired).
Well, surprise surprise. Apparently, Paderanga really did ask to leave for health reasons.
According to a source, the economist—who has served as NEDA head under two Aquino administrations—was brought to the emergency room of the Heart Center late last year for a “heart condition.”
Strenuous activities (like trying to figure out how to make the economy growth faster) have since been prohibited by his doctors.
Indeed, the stress of being economic planning secretary has pushed up Paderanga’s weight and blood pressure.
So there. Back to the more laid-back career of teaching, perhaps?—Daxim L. Lucas
Spilling the flash mob beans
Deviating from the common practice of bringing professional entertainers or celebrities to the trading floor during a stock market debut, Lopez-led Rockwell Land Corp. instead picked the best dancers among its employees to perform a flash mob number during the property developer’s listing by introduction on the Philippine Stock Exchange last Friday.
Rockwell’s flash mob dancers swarmed the trading floor and cheered the listing which, by the way, made a lot of Meralco stockholders (who got shares of Rockwell as property dividend) very, very happy.
As tribute to company chair Manolo Lopez, Rockwell planned to do a public flash mob dance at the Power Plant Mall that same day. It was supposed to be a surprise. But Rockwell president Tong Padilla inadvertently spilled the beans by inviting the PSE reporters to the shopping mall at 6 p.m. He forgot that Lopez was seated beside him during the same presscon. Lopez then realized that this was why Padilla had wanted him to go to the mall at 5:30 p.m. that day. The surprise was spoiled, but not the festive spirit arising from the skyrocketing prices of “ROCK” last Friday, which hit a high of P7.70 before closing at P4.90 (it listed at P1.46 per share).—Doris C. Dumlao
If one finds Atok-Big Wedge in the news nowadays, it is most likely because of the recent announcement of a “hidden treasure” find in the apparently gas-rich Recto Bank.
Atok—owned by businessman Roberto Ongpin—owns 26 percent of Forum Energy which, in turn, owns a 70-percent stake in Service Contract 72 (covering the area the Chinese are claiming as their own).
As such, Atok is sitting on a treasure trove of the gaseous kind. But it is apparently sitting on more hidden treasure of a metallic form—now the subject of litigation.
In 2010, Norway’s Intex struck a deal with Ongpin for the former to sell 100 percent of the Mindoro Nickel Project to Atok in exchange for cash and Atok shares.
Supposedly, Intex’s CEO Erlend Grimstad claimed to be authorized to conclude a deal. But soon after both gentlemen shook hands on it, Ongpin’s camp claimed that Grimstad suddenly refused to sign—prompting Atok to sue Intex.
Intex resisted the case by saying that Philippine courts have no jurisdiction because it is not domiciled in the Philippines. Intex’s motion to dismiss was … well … dismissed, and it went up to the Court of Appeals, where the case is pending.
But early this year, Intex struck a deal with Chinese firm MC8, apparently selling the same Mindoro Nickel Project to the latter despite the case being in court.
Intext even came out with a Mining Week ad which extolled the virtues of the project and noted that they were in discussions with partners (the ad also says they have a Manila office, contrary to their court declaration).
Is it sitting on more “hidden treasure?” Atok certainly thinks so.—Daxim L. Lucas
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Tags: Atok-Big Wedge , Cayetano Paderanga Jr. , intex , Manila Electric Co. , Manolo Lopez , Manuel V. Pangilinan , National Economic Development Authority , Norway , Philippines , Rockwell Land Corp.