Biz Buzz: Enter the DragonBy the staff
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Amid all the ruckus and noisy debate about how to handle the aircraft congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the guys up north at Clark have been quietly working toward making the Philippines more accessible to foreigners.
Proof of this is the latest achievement of Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC): sealing a deal with Hong Kong-based Dragonair for regular flights between the former British colony and the former US air base.
The first flight between Hong Kong and Clark, in fact, happened on Tuesday (May 29) and effectively connects the Philippines’ “other” international gateway with the rest of the world via the network of Dragonair’s parent firm, Cathay Pacific.
According to our source, anyone flying from Clark via Dragonair can now connect seamlessly with the rest of Cathay Pacific’s 130 destinations worldwide through its Hong Kong hub. Of course, one can also do that by taking Cathay from Manila, but the Dragonair service will mean extra convenience for travelers from Northern and Central Luzon, as well as those from northern Metro Manila.
At the same time, Airphil Express—the budget carrier unit of Philippine Airlines—also started its thrice-a-week service between Clark and Singapore and its four-times-a-week Clark-Hong Kong flights on May 17 and 18, respectively.
CIAC chief Victor Jose Luciano now expects Clark to serve up to 1.5 million passengers by the end of this year, with the additional flights brought in by Air Asia Philippines, Airphil Express, Seair-Tiger and Dragonair. At present, Clark services almost 300 flights a week for both local and international destinations.
Good to know that something good is happening in the local aviation sector.—Daxim L. Lucas
GSIS’ new fund managers
In line with its commitment to plow more funds into the domestic markets, the state-owned Government Service Insurance System has increased its stable of local fund managers.
“We threw a very transparent and competitive process,” said GSIS president Robert Vergara, who traded in the global financial markets before joining government service.
Such bidding process has resulted in BPI Odyssey and ATR KimEng Asset Management, respectively headed by Paul Joseph Garcia and Michael Ferrer (both ex-ING fund managers), getting fund management allotment from the GSIS amounting to P2 billion each. This brings the GSIS’ equity portfolio, including the portion internally managed by the pension fund, to about P81 billion.
While a lion’s share of 80 percent of the GSIS’ equity portfolio is managed by the pension fund internally, about P16 billion is now externally managed. Before mandating BPI Odyssey and ATR Kim Eng, the rest of the GSIS’ equity exposure is managed by the trust units of Metrobank, Banco de Oro and Philam Asset Management.—Doris C. Dumlao
Corporate rivals Manuel V. Pangilinan and Ramon S. Ang may soon be forging a critical alliance geared for the win. This time, the so-called “frenemies” may have to hatch strategies that could help propel Meralco Bolts, the basketball team of power distributor Manila Electric Co., to championship, as this was the last request of Ambassador Manuel Lopez, who stepped down as chair of the distribution utility Tuesday.
Lopez made that request at the conclusion of his speech, which praised Pangilinan as an “astute” businessman who can steer Meralco to further growth over the next years.
“I may be astute … but when it comes to Meralco Bolts, I think I may need the help of Ramon Ang,” Pangilinan said during the stockholders’ meeting Tuesday.
Pangilinan is currently the chair of Meralco, while Ang continues to serve as a director and vice chair for the utility firm. If they can’t cooperate in business, maybe they can cooperate in basketball?—Amy R. Remo
From BPAP to IBM
After helping promote the country’s valuable IT-business process outsourcing industry here and abroad, Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP) executive director Martin Antonio Crisostomo is leaving the association to join IBM Philippines as “government programs executive” aka chief of government relations effective June 1.
The youngest member of BPAP’s executive team, Crisostomo organized trade missions, media campaigns and likewise spearheaded the in-house lobby group of the association during his three-and-a-half-year stint. Before working for BPAP, Crisostomo was an RPN 9 reporter and press undersecretary (under Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye) in Malacañang under the Macapagal-Arroyo regime. An Atenean from primary school to college (he finished with a double degree in Social Sciences and Communication Arts ’97), Crisostomo finished his MBA at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.
BPAP is now on the hunt for someone who can fill the void created by Crisostomo’s move to IBM.—Doris C. Dumlao
Grinning and bearing
Apparently, it’s not just banana exporters who are having a tough time dealing with the fallout from the Philippines-China standoff over the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.
Mining companies shipping low-grade nickel ore to China are getting hit, too. While orders keep coming in, there has been a noticeable slowdown or outright “hold” order on the payments, according to industry sources. Exporters can see no other reason other than Chinese companies being influenced by their government due to geopolitical issues, our sources said.
Some miners conduct initial processing to turn cheap, low-grade nickel ore (essentially heaps of soil in raw form) into nickel pig iron granules or pellets for shipping at higher prices to other markets. Those who don’t are now vulnerable and “just grin and bear it” or, as one source put it, may have to “seriously” start thinking of alternatives.—Riza Olchondra
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