Biz Buzz: Ortigas breakthroughBy the staff
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The acquisition by tycoon Henry Sy’s SM Investments of a controlling stake in closely held urban property developer Ortigas Holdings has been a bit delayed by some opposition from one faction within the Ortigas family.
According to the grapevine, this faction—which has the right to match the SM offer—has been approached by some investment bankers offering help to raise money or bring in new partners for the group to exercise their right of first refusal.
But industry sources say it’s just a matter of time for the SM group to consummate its Ortigas takeover. A structure has been worked out that will give the group of former Philippine Ambassador to Mexico Francisco Ortigas III (a.k.a. the controversial “Paqui”) the leeway to close the deal with SM, said an industry source privy to the transaction.
As a first step, Paqui’s group may gain majority control of the holding firm by consolidating the interest of all other willing sellers, including that of British bank HSBC.
SM Investments chief finance officer Jose Sio said, however, that while lawyers and bankers might be working on various arrangements to hammer out the deal, the SM group was cognizant that this was a sensitive family matter that the Ortigases themselves would have to decide on. Sio said SM was respectful of family dynamics and suggested that SM would not resort to any machination that will force its entry.
SM—the dominant shopping mall developer and a fast-growing residential and hotel developer in the country—will come in only if welcome, he says.
The Ortigas group, a key urban developer, has 50 hectares of land spanning Quezon City, Pasig, San Juan and Mandaluyong, the crown jewel of which is the 16-hectare Greenhills property complex. Another 40 hectares of prime land can be added to its land bank, which include portions of Camp Crame (10 hectares) and Camp Aguinaldo (30 hectares), which were donated to the government years ago but which it has the right to buy back if the government vacates the area in the future (or if it accepts an offer it can’t refuse in exchange for the development of these crucial parcels of land).—Doris C. Dumlao
Anti-mining NGO takes a hit
Some tribal leaders in Brooke’s Point, Palawan, apparently have a problem with one particular NGO, which has been publicly advocating for their rights using the environmental issue as leverage.
In particular, tribal leaders from several barangays in the locality have written no less than President Aquino to complain against this prominent NGO for its supposed cash-generating venture near Sabsaban Falls that straddles the barangays of Aribungos and Ipilan.
According to these tribal leaders, this foundation intruded into their ancestral domain and cut down at least 25 trees, the wood from which was allegedly used as building materials for its office, a hotel and a restaurant near Sabsaban Falls.
In their letter to the President, some 30 tribal chieftains said the foundation head’s “hasty construction of a resort in the land of our forebears was without the required Free Prior Informed Consent from us natives, as well as necessary Certification Precondition from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).”
“Our dear President, we have not allowed (the NGO head) to construct a resort here [on our ancestral land] because we are afraid that our culture and way of life would be lost due to the entry of outsiders.
“Because of this, we are imploring your good office to send investigators so that we may be afforded justice for the destruction, intrusion and construction of buildings by (the NGO head) in our land in Sabsaban Falls in Barangays Ipilon and Aribungos, and for them to be prosecuted for violating our rights under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).”
Incidentally, the structures being constructed are meant for an “eco-academy” for which the group charges anywhere between P488 and P888 for overnight camping, as well as fees for day camping, table rentals and showers.
The entrepreneurial group even offers events organizing and catering for affairs like weddings, birthdays and reunions. Nice.
Of course, it’s not just irresponsible mining that can damage the fragile ecosystem of Palawan. It’s foot traffic and events like weddings, as well (not to mention the garbage generated by such festivities).
According to our source, the NCIP believes the complaint of the tribal leaders based on an ocular inspection they conducted on the area last month.
In fact, the NCIP has already ordered the anti-mining NGO to answer the tribal leaders’ complaint and to stop any form of construction near Sabsaban Falls. Whoops.—Daxim L. Lucas
More delays for mining policy?
The wait for the government’s mining agenda and policy directions may end soon as more sectors continue to pitch their inputs.
No less than Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala pushed for the agriculture sector to also have inputs in the mining policy—and Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje seems open to considering it.
“D.A. can submit inputs to Presidential Assistant (Elisea) Gozun,” Paje said in a text message.
Gozun, Paje said, was leading the secretariat for the Office of the President in gathering all inputs for the mining policy.
Alcala has said that mining activities should not take place in agricultural areas, especially where there have been investments in irrigation and other related services. The agriculture chief was especially concerned over the Tampakan $5.9-billion copper-gold project in Mindanao, where Alcala said government has invested in irrigation in the proposed host mining areas.
Alcala said some farmers would not likely accept the mining project over concerns it may affect water supply.
“How can we attain sufficiency level in agriculture if this mining project is to push through?” Alcala said.
On Alcala’s concern regarding agricultural areas, Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), which manages the Tampakan project, has said “no mining activities are proposed to be undertaken in any prime agricultural lands.”
SMI communication manager John Arnaldo has said that if the project is approved, the company would build what could be the fifth-largest freshwater storage dam in the country. This dam will mitigate flooding and siltation in nearby farms by collecting excess water during the rainy season and distributing irrigation water during the dry season.—Riza T. Olchondra
Apart from Philippine Airlines, San Miguel Corp. president Ramon S. Ang has other new acquisitions to be proud of.
An automotive aficionado, RSA recently acquired two Tony Kart Formula 1 Super A units for go-karting. These are the same models that won the Macau grand prix. Whenever RSA is not working on new deals or looking after SMC’s new businesses, he takes these new babies for a spin (at least 15 laps each visit) sometimes at the 650-meter Boomland Kart Circuit in Boom na Boom or at the 1,050-meter Carmona Circuit in Cavite. No, he doesn’t shut down the circuits to get privacy during his visit, but chooses to mingle and play with fellow go-kart enthusiasts.—Doris C. Dumlao
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