Biz Buzz: P500M nightclubBy the staff
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Businessman Amable Aguiluz, founder of AMA Computer University and a special envoy to the Arab Gulf states, probably holds the record for making the single-biggest investment in a stand-alone restaurant-bar in the metropolis after bringing in a Paris-born cosmopolitan nightclub franchise.
Buddha Bar Manila, which opened its doors last January at Aguiluz’s Picar Place development along Kalayaan Avenue in Makati, is the 27th in the international chain created by French (of Romanian descent) nightclub expert Raymond Visan and the biggest in the world.
With its 500-person seating capacity, it has enough room to serve Manila’s discerning crowd even during the peak Friday and Saturday nights. Its counterparts elsewhere in the world, such as the one in New York (which was even featured in a Sex and the City episode), are favorite watering holes of celebrities.
With its signature big floating Buddha, an elegant lounge at the ground floor, dining area at the second floor and an al fresco roofdeck lounge and live DJ playing its own music mix, Aguiluz had to fork out P500 million to build the place.
This signifies the commitment of the AMA group to the property market, says Danilo Jugno, general manager of AMA group’s property development arm Picar Development. According to the grapevine, the air-con system of the facility alone costs P40 million.
Is this just an icing on the cake to draw traffic to Picar’s flagship mixed-use complex in Makati? Jugno says it’s possible for Picar to recover its investment in about five years.
Eventually, Buddha Bar Manila will be surrounded by Picar’s high-rise projects such as the three-tower The Stratford Residences, which has yet to rise but is already featured in an ongoing exhibit at Eiffel Tower as among the tallest buildings in the world.—Doris C. Dumlao
After recently buying the food-processing unit of Barrio Fiesta, Splash Corp. is considering another move to fast-track the growth of its food business. According to the grapevine, Splash has expressed preliminary interest to acquire the meat division of the Concepcion family’s RFM Corp. This meat division is not the publicly listed Swift Foods Inc., which produces and sells poultry products, namely live and dressed/processed chicken. It is a unit within RFM itself that produces the Swift-branded meat products like hotdog, luncheon meat, ham and bacon.
But industry sources said the discussions between Splash and RFM were still in the “exploratory” phase. RFM might be open to getting either a strategic partner for a joint venture or selling this business depending on how attractive the offer was, sources said. Given the recent interest in consumer businesses in the country (that allowed the Uytengsu family to unlock good value out of Alaska Milk, for instance), RFM seems open, but in no hurry, to make any decision. Also, other sources said there were other parties talking to the Concepcion family.—Doris C. Dumlao
SEC outsider, insider
It was only last month when President Aquino appointed the former head of SGV & Co. David Balangue as commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission, replacing the recently retired Raul Palabrica.
A Biz Buzz source at the SEC informed us, however, that the man who used to head the country’s biggest and most prestigious auditing firm has yet to assume his post at the corporate regulator.
“In fact, he hasn’t been showing up at the SEC at all,” said one person familiar with the inner working of the agency.
This was confirmed by people who knew Balangue, who was supposedly nominated to the post by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima (himself a former top honcho at SGV). Balangue’s refusal to assume the SEC post— notwithstanding an official announcement made by Malacañang on his appointment by the President—comes as a surprise to some of his friends, given that his skills as a corporate auditor make him a good fit to be one of the leaders of the SEC.
If the wags are to be believed, however, Balangue prefers to be appointed to head the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines, especially since the current DBP president, Francisco del Rosario Jr., is supposedly set to step down from his post come September 30.
Whatever the real motive is, people are hoping that Malacañang will, for a change, appoint an SEC insider to help boost efficiency at the corporate regulator. “Who knows the SEC better than an insider, right?” said our source.—Daxim L. Lucas
Get business alerts and a preview of Biz Buzz the evening before it comes out. Text ON INQ BUSINESS to 4467 (P2.50/alert).
Short URL: http://business.inquirer.net/?p=78126