Biz Buzz: Castilaloys uniteBy the staff
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The battle between the Chinoys and Castilaloys for the Ortigas central business district has become a reality after Ayala Land Inc. made a formal pitch to come in as a strategic partner of the Ortigas family, which, in turn, consolidated control of its holding firm last week by buying out the 34-percent stake held for the last 70 years by British banking giant HSBC.
Some market analysts concluded that this move has effectively foiled the bid of the SM group, but our sources cautioned not to count SM out. What is not known to many is that the SM group itself had funded part of the Ortigases’ buyout of the HSBC stake. From what we gathered, the stake was distributed on a pro-rated basis among family members who were willing to exercise their right of first refusal. Those who favored SM as a strategic partner got some financial muscle from the tycoon while the rest raised money to beat the deadline last week.
And while ALI is entering the picture through an alliance with the group of Ignacio Ortigas, it is interesting what move SM’s allies in the holding company will take next.
In any case, both the Ayalas and SM are waiting in the wings to close a deal with a critical mass of the Ortigases, who may have technically consolidated their interest in Ortigas Holdings within the family but remain divided as to their future direction. Since the Ayalas and the SM group both have “proxies” among the family members, the exercise of the right of first refusal on the HSBC stake has not resulted in a clear winner. For its part, ALI’s rising to the challenge was not a surprise as this can lead to its cementing its title as the country’s CBD [central business district] “king.”—Doris C. Dumlao
In this country—as in anywhere else—one should better be prepared to brave the storm if he is going to go up against a large corporation.
Businessman Washington Lou certainly seems to be finding out the hard way how steep an uphill climb his case is against the local unit of Dutch financial services giant ING Bank.
To recall, the Chinese-Filipino businessman had sued ING Bank for a slew of alleged regulatory violations, including selling him investment instruments without fully apprising him of the risks involved (his money—or rather his parents’ retirement money—went kaput after investments tanked during the last global financial crisis).
Lou filed a case against the bank before the Bacolod City regional trial court (his petition was dismissed) and then brought his complaint before Congress, where the committee probing it is set to issue its final report.
Well, ING Bank did not take the accusations sitting down, apparently. Through their counsels at the Accra law office, the bank filed a complaint before the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office alleging that Lou—along with several members of his family—had falsified public documents when he filed his earlier Bacolod City complaint. As it turned out, Lou is a resident of Metro Manila (specifically, Corinthian Gardens in Quezon City) and not Bacolod.
ING further claimed that the address used by Lou in his Bacolod complaint was, instead, the address of his lawyer. This, the bank said, meant the businessman had falsified public documents and made false assertions in his court complaint—an illegal act under the law.
Sought for comment, Lou said that, though he had not yet been served a formal copy of the complaint, he was sure that this was ING Bank’s way of getting back at him for having allegedly “exposed all their illegal acts.”
Moral of the story? When going up against the big guys, watch out for the small details.—Daxim L. Lucas
Casino mogul Stanley Ho’s son Lawrence Ho and Australian billionaire James Packer—the men behind Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment—were in town for a few hours Wednesday last week to discuss a prospective collaboration on the $1-billion gaming complex being built by Belle Corp., which is majority controlled by the family of tycoon Henry Sy.
Through their own private jets, Ho came from Hong Kong while Packer flew in from London to visit the Belle Grande project site at the Aseana Business Park in Parañaque City. They were also spotted having lunch at RED in Makati Shangri-la with Henry “Big Boy” Sy Jr. and Belle vice chair Willy Ocier. Iñigo Zobel, who is part of the controlling group in San Miguel Corp. and the new president of budget carrier Air Philippines, was also present during the lunch meeting. Zobel and Packer have a common ground, both being avid polo players.
“Very cordial and promising” was how our sources described the meeting among these wealthy men, who may end up replicating in the Philippines Melco’s über modern entertainment complex, “City of Dreams,” in Macau.—Doris C. Dumlao
Investing in Bank of Commerce is like sort of a déjà vu for Malaysian banking giant CIMB, which from 1979 to 1986 was actually known as Bank of Commerce Bhd, a CIMB official told Biz Buzz.
So we looked up the bank’s history and found out that its precursor was Bian Chiang Bank, established in 1924 by the prominent Wee family (who became founding members of Singapore’s United Overseas Bank) in Sarawak, Malaysia. The bank was renamed Bank of Commerce Bhd in 1979 following the entry of the US-based Fleet Group. In 1986, the Malaysian bank became the controlling shareholder of Pertanian Baring Sanwa Multinational, and the name of the resulting entity was changed to Commerce International Merchant Bankers Bhd. The new CIMB Group was launched in 2006 as a three-way merger among Commerce International Merchant Bankers, Bumiputra-Commerce Bank and Southern Bank to form a universal banking group.
The Malaysian bank’s entry in the Philippines is part of the bank’s regional ambition, stated a few years back, to be “Southeast Asia’s most valued universal bank.” The CIMB official also told us that the bank was on the lookout for a Filipino executive to head the Philippine operations instead of bringing in a Malaysian expat. Similar to how the bank expanded elsewhere in the region, the official said CIMB would always establish a foothold with the help of local people. Sooner or later, Bank of Commerce may be rebranded to get aligned with the CIMB mark.—Doris C. Dumlao
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