Biz Buzz: High flyers go bustBy the staff
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A financing company recently went under, but its principals have, so far, managed to keep the whole thing hush hush.
According to our sources, this financing company—based in Makati and owned by the family of a former political bigwig—was a very lucrative operation until a few weeks ago, when its post-dated checks (issued as payment to creditors) started bouncing as they came due.
The financing firm, we’re told, counted among its clients several high networth individuals, many of whom were incredibly upset at its owners who continued to be seen in the posh Manila Polo Club living the high life.
Curious as to who they are? Watch this space.—Daxim L. Lucas
Scouting for cowboys
Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, who has declared interest to put on a farmer’s hat, may end up going on a rodeo and working with cowboys as well.
A source from the MVP group said the chief of Hong Kong-based First Pacific group was now looking for opportunities to go big-time not only in agriculture and farming but in producing meat (and maybe dairy products?) too. “We are looking at cattle (ranches) in Australia and New Zealand,” the source said.
First Pacific’s Indonesian unit Indofood Agri Resources Ltd. (IndoAgri) is also the number three palm oil company in the world but has ambitions to grow further as it makes negligible external income from selling crude palm oil. It uses up nearly all of its production internally. In the Philippines, Pangilinan had said that his group was looking at investing in growing sugar and bananas. It’s unfortunate that while the farm sector accounted for the largest component of Philippine labor, its contribution to gross domestic product was very small.
“Food and water will be the world’s top needs,” the source pointed out, explaining the rationale for the prospective foray into cattle raising.—Doris C. Dumlao
Bankers…with a heart
It’s not all greed in the world of bankers, after all. Bank treasurers and traders, specifically.
That’s because ACI Philippines—the local chapter of an international organization of treasurers and testosterone-filled trading room jocks (and “jockettes”)—recently started sending their second scholar to school, at the University of the Philippines’ Diliman campus, no less.
As part of the group’s corporate social responsibility efforts, the bankers pooled together their funds last year to send their first scholar to college, in partnership with UP Diliman.
The school took care of identifying the prospective scholars and presented a short list to the donor group, and the final choice for the lucky student was made.
ACI (many members of which are also affiliated with the Money Market Association of the Philippines, which counts bond traders as members) then supported the scholar through financial assistance for tuition, book allowances and monthly stipends. They even pitched in to buy their first scholar laptop computer, we hear.
The first scholar—now on his sophomore year taking up BS Business Administration—is Ryan Benedict Galang, who is the son of a jeepney driver and a housewife. As part of ACI’s program, he also received early on-the-job training at HSBC’s treasury group.
The program was so well received within the group that ACI is now sending its second scholar on her freshman year to UP Diliman.
“Our dream is to one day have an ACI scholar actually become the treasurer of a bank,” said Philippine Business Bank president Roland Avante.
In any case, the annual cost for a single scholar comes to around P200,000. Peanuts, you say? Trust us: for bankers for whom every basis point and peso count toward their bottom line, that’s a generous grant.—Daxim L. Lucas
Goodbye to Haagen Dazs
To the followers of imported ice cream Haagen Dazs, and other sweet stuff like Pillsbury and Sara Lee, did you know that the last one you ate may be your last? The firm that imports these goods is already leaving the country. Over the past weeks, they have been selling the stuff on sale to get rid of stocks.
But the bigger story than the sale is why they left.
It was not because the food did not taste good. It was because they could not tolerate a corrupt Bureau of Customs official they had to deal with when importing the goods. Our sources said that instead of haggling over tariffs to pay in order for them to get their stocks past Customs, they decided to simply forget the Philippine market.
An importer who admitted to paying bribe money for the importation (of other goods) said the situation at the BoC has actually gotten worse under the current administration because grafters no longer state the price they wanted… but importers have to make sure they pay a high rate for the Customs officials to “mind the goods” and bring them in.
Guess the “matuwid na daan” thrust skipped some Customs officials.—Margie Quimpo-Espino
The accidental leakage of water and silt out of Philex Mining’s Padcal mine in Benguet has been plugged as of Friday but the bigger challenge is the clean-up of the water bodies affected by the spill. Industry sources said Mines and Geosciences Bureau chief Leo Jasareno and Philex Mining chair Manuel V. Pangilinan have been in close communication ever since, with the former advising MVP that that this will be a “very sensitive issue that will be more political than environmental.” Jasareno had told MVP, however, that the “brave men and women of Philex, raised in the spirit of responsible mining through the years, should be able to pull it through.”
After containing the leakage, MVP assured Jasareno that Philex would do its best to clean up both the Balog Creek and the affected portions of the Agno River. Philex’s more than 2,000 employees have volunteered to help with the clean-up while the Padcal mine is closed indefinitely. MVP further assured Jasareno that his group had engaged professional technical experts in such effort. Each day of closure costs Philex P30 million but MVP said his group was not as much concerned about opportunity losses at this point as focusing on remedial and restoration measures.—Doris C. Dumlao
Amid the inclement weather that flooded and paralyzed the National Capital Region on Tuesday, some tenants of SM Malls were initially reluctant to padlock their stores and send their staff home for fear of retribution from their landlord.
SM Malls president Annie Garcia, however, promptly issued a statement to allay their fears. She assured that there would be no penalties for SM tenants who have chosen to close shop. She said SM Malls “realizes the gravity of the weather situation.”
“In fact, SM has opened malls for their employees and their families and customers who are affected by floods. It has also allowed its parking areas to be used free of charge for cars of tenants (and) customers,” Garcia said.—Doris C. Dumlao
Move over, Thai rice
How does one spell “Jasponica” in Thai?
Henry Lim Bon Liong should probably be thinking it over. That is, if a deal pushes through between the Philippines’ dominant hybrid rice seed producer, Lim’s SL Agritech, and one of the biggest global rice exporters based in Thailand.
Lim was recently in Bangkok, which got us wondering why. Perhaps the rice seed producer was shopping…for a deal?
Make that another deal, since Manuel V. Pangilinan himself, who leads regional conglomerate First Pacific Co. Ltd., has said his group is “in talks” with Lim on a possible hybrid rice plantation venture.
Back to Bangkok. Our source said there was rice tasting and, asked if the rice was OK, those on the Thai side apparently found it “better than OK!”
For jasmine-rice-eating Thais to say so, that seems to indicate good prospects for Lim.—Riza T. Olchondra
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Tags: ACI Philippines , Agriculture , Bureau of Customs , Business , Environmental Issues , Finance , food , graft and corruption , Häagen-Dazs , Henry Lim Bon Liong , Manuel V. Pangilinan , Mining and quarrying , Philex Mining , Philippines , Retail , rice , scholarship , SM Malls