Good management team lightens CEO’s burden
MPIC’s Jose Lim leads group’s infra expansion programBy Tina Arceo-Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Being the chief executive officer of a 100-billion-peso-company such as Metro Pacific Investments Corp. does come with a generous compensation and benefit package that ordinary Filipinos can only dream of.
The posh corner office, substantial salary, hefty stock options, luxury company car with personal driver, regular first-class trips abroad and high stature in the private sector are just some of the perks reserved for the elite group of top executives.
But being at the helm of a publicly listed, top 100 corporation also means having to carry 24 hours a day and seven days a week a heavy burden of responsibility that has caused a number of executives to buckle under the weight of overseeing a group with thousands of employees.
The bone crushing pressure to significantly increase company profit every year to provide shareholders a substantial return on their capital and keep rabid competition at bay can prove to be too much to handle, even for senior top managers with top-notch credentials and extensive experience.
Fortunately for the Metro Pacific group of companies led by Manuel V. Pangilinan, MPIC president and CEO Jose Ma. K. Lim is not one of them.
While the bespectacled, soft-spoken CEO admits that he can indeed feel the weight on his shoulders, the 60-year-old tells SundayBiz that his yoke is made easier to carry by the support of professional managers who handle the day-to-day individual units that contribute to the bottom line of the infrastructure investment company.
MPIC has holdings in electricity distributor Manila Electric CO., water distributor Maynilad Water Services Inc. and toll operator Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. It also has investments in leading hospitals in Metro Manila and the provinces, including Makati Medical Center and Cardinal Santos Medical Center.
Its units have a combined workforce of over 14,000 employees.
Lim says he is lucky to be surrounded by “very capable” managers. He says that this enables him to devote half of his company time to developing the growth strategy for the group, instead of being caught up in the finer details of running the different companies.
He spends the other half of his time attending meetings of the board of the different companies under MPIC’s wing and meeting with shareholders and potential investors.
“I just provide guidance in terms of policy direction but the team is so strong. The [senior executives] are very capable,” says the young-looking Lim, who graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and has a Master in Business Administration from the Asian Institute of Management.
The latest financial results help support Lim’s claim.
At the end of June this year, MPIC reported a consolidated core net income of P3.46 billion, up 30 percent from the P2.66 billion from the same period last year as every business delivered strong growth, particularly Maynilad, followed by Meralco and MPTC. The hospital group has also started to contribute.
“All our businesses achieved strong growth in profitability for the first half of the year. We are well placed for continued growth for the rest of 2012,” Lim says in a disclosure on the company results for the first half.
There was a time, however, when what Lim saw on the spreadsheets that came his way were worrisome results.
In 1998, when the Asian currency crisis peaked, the former vice president for treasury of Fort Bonifacio Development Corp. saw the company saddled with as much as P13 billion in debt and slim prospects for significant sales.
He says that it became clear quite quickly at that time that difficult decisions had to be made, and one of them was to sell the stake in FBDC in 2003 and whip the company back into healthy financial shape.
FBDC’s debt was brought down to a more bearable P6 billion after the sale, and trimmed even further after a series of financial transactions, including the delisting of Metro Pacific Corp. and the creation of a new company, MPIC.
“In the world of arbitrage, you tend to be detached and when you’re detached, you can make decisions,” says Lim, who eventually became CEO of MPC.
Having helped successfully steer the company’s financial course toward recovery, Lim was moved from CEO of MPC to President and CEO of MPIC, the new vehicle for reviving the group’s fortunes.
MPIC, which is 55 percent owned by the Hong Kong-based First Pacific group, was listed in 2006, and Lim’s mandate since then has remained the same: To continue to grow the firm’s portfolio and be involved in the infrastructure development in the Philippines.
As CEO of MPIC, he is a director in the following subsidiaries and/or affiliate companies: Beacon Electric Asset Holdings Inc., Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., Manila North Tollways Corp., Tollways Management Corp., Maynilad Water Services Inc., Medical Doctors Inc. (owner and operator of the Makati Medical Center), Davao Doctors Hospital (Clinica Hilario) Inc., and Landco Pacific Corp. (including several Landco subsidiaries).
He is also president of Metro Strategic Infrastructure Holdings Inc., which holds a minority ownership interest in Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp. (Skyway).
With the group continuing to look for new areas to expand to, Lim will have even more items on his full plate.
But he is not complaining since the commitment is there for the group to be part of the country’s growth story and contribute to making the Philippines infrastructure developments at par with that of its neighbors.
“I want MPIC to be an excellently managed holding company with a stellar portfolio of companies that contribute to society and concerned for the public’s welfare,” says Lim.
Short URL: http://business.inquirer.net/?p=77612