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Biz Buzz: EcoRail’s P30B blunder

/ 02:05 AM October 24, 2012

Local conglomerates submitted pre-qualifying bid documents this week to convince the government of their financial and technical capability to take on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 Cavite extension project.

Three local groups, namely San Miguel Corp., Metro Pacific Investments Corp. together with partner Ayala Corp., and Consunji-led DMCI Holdings, as well as Malaysian-Korean consortium MTD-Samsung, are now in the running to be qualified to bid for the megadeal by the first quarter of 2013.

Noticeably absent from the list was Reghis Romero II’s EcoRail Transport Services Inc., which last June said it had partnered with Beijing’s China Railway Construction Corp. to make a serious bid for the deal.

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No, it’s not that the company was not ready, willing or confident enough to fight it out with bigger local conglomerates for the contract. EcoRail had in fact tried to submit pre-qualifying documents to the DOTC. The company’s bid documents were submitted at exactly 2 p.m. on Monday, which was the deadline set by the special Bids and Awards Committee for the project.

Unfortunately for EcoRail, only eight of the required 10 copies of its bid documents (one for each BAC member) were submitted by its lawyers on time. And the other two copies? They were left in the car.

In deciding not to accept EcoRail’s submission, Transportation Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo “Juju” Lotilla said: “This is an all-or-nothing matter. Either you meet all requirements or you fail.”

EcoRail’s obviously disappointed representative appealed for leniency after the decision was announced, but the BAC turned him down.

So, just how costly was this mistake of leaving two folders in the car? The project the company had a fighting chance of winning was worth P30 billion.—Paolo Montecillo

Cyber-attacks vs banks

Banks have tightened their watch over what seems to be—based on anecdotal evidence—an increasing trend of vicious hacking into bank systems. And we’re not talking about merely defacing a website to promote an advocacy, but actual or attempted breaches of bank systems to mine confidential bank data or facilitate fraudulent bank transfers by real cyber-criminals.

Asia United Bank president Abraham Co said bankers never talked openly about these things because they did not normally discuss internal stuff like hacking, security breaches or electronic fraud. But since banks do report such things to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Co said it would be best if the BSP itself would issue public warnings about the modus operandi of cyber-attacks on banks.

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“It’s rising because that means they (perpetrators) are getting something,” Co said. The only way to prevent more people from being victimized, Co said, would be to expose what cyber-criminals are up to. Some of these cyber-attackers were overseas, Co said, some based as far as Eastern Europe or Africa.

Another top banker said that in his bank’s case, a noticeable rise in attempted breach on bank security settings happened shortly after the Scarborough Shoal tension between the Philippines and China escalated. The banker said some security breach (whether successful or frustrated attempts) on local corporations—particularly targeting those with “Philippine” on their corporate name—could be traced back to users with IP (Internet protocol) addresses from the Asian mainland.

Many of the cyber-attacks happen every day and with public money in their safekeeping, banks are constantly under pressure to upgrade their systems to strengthen their system’s firewalls.—Doris C. Dumlao

Odds against Intex

Norway-based Intex Mining Resources ASA—the proponent of Mindoro Nickel—is facing a steep uphill climb after its Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) was temporarily revoked in 2009 following a hunger strike led by a local prelate who has been campaigning to halt all forms of mining in the province.

Local politicians have since jumped in and expressed, in a letter they sent to President Aquino, their wish that the ECC and the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) earlier secured by Intex be permanently revoked.

Their main contention, among others: the project lacks social acceptability since only a select group of Mangyans were consulted about the project. The company pointed out, however, that the Mangyans, who are direct beneficiaries of the project, have written the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippine (CBCP) to disown a local priest who they claimed has been misrepresenting their cause.

An investigating team has been sent to the province but we’re told the company doubted its impartiality. According to our sources, the members of the government investigating panel included a certain Fr. Edwin Gariguez (who led a hunger strike that caused the cancellation of Intex’s ECC); Ponyang Kadlos (himself a non-resident hunger striker); Marius Agua (a member of the Alamin anti-mining advocacy group, who had also joined protests against the project); Girlie de Guzman (also an anti-mining advocate); Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro, Mayor Eric Constantino (a signatory to the mining moratorium ordinance in the province); Msgr. Ruben Villanueva (who used to have a radio program very critical of the project); and provincial board member Roderick Agas (author of the resolution banning large-scale mining in the province).

Any chance they’d exonerate the mining firm they’re probing?—Daxim L. Lucas

 

Fresh from Vietnam

After his business mission to Vietnam, businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is raring to go back to pursue actual investments. “We’d like to come back. We’re serious about this country and will be prepared to invest hopefully with local partners,” MVP said in a statement on Tuesday.

But while First Pacific Co. Ltd. traditionally requires active management participation in its investee companies, MVP is cognizant that the model may need to change. As First Pacific can’t impose on the host, the Hong Kong-based regional conglomerate is willing to adapt to the market practice in Vietnam.

With about 80 percent of its assets invested in the Philippines, First Pacific has long indicated its desire to diversify its investment portfolio.—Doris C. Dumlao

All eyes on Zuellig building

The new 33-story Zuellig building at the corner of Makati Ave. and Paseo de Roxas has been chosen as one of the top three buildings in the “Best Office and Business Development” category of the internationally renowned MIPIM Asia Awards. It is also the first building in the Philippines to be recognized by MIPIM.

While the winners of the MIPIM Asia Award will be determined by an official jury and delegates, public online voting can give the Zuellig Building the first-ever “Your Choice Award,” company officials said.

The building’s owners are hoping to mimic the success of the social media campaign that helped put the Philippines on the tourism map when the Puerto Princesa Underground River became one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

This is the first time MIPIM opened voting to the public via its website www.mipim.com. Online voting is open until Nov. 5, 2012; the final ranking of the winners will be announced in ceremonies on November 8 in Hong Kong (one lucky online voter stands to win an iPad).

For “Best Office and Business Development” category, the Zuellig Building is up against Hong Kong’s 50 Connaught Road Central and China’s Tianjin Global Financial Center. As finalists, the three buildings are vying for a Gold, Silver or Bronze award.

Prior to its being a finalist, the Zuellig Building had already gained attention for being the first high-rise project in the Philippines awarded with a Gold pre-certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program of the US Green Building Council.—Daxim L. Lucas

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TAGS: bidding, cyber-attacks, Design, EcoRail Transport Services, Intex Mining Resources ASA, LRT 1 extension, Manuel V. Pangilinan, MIPIM Asia Awards, office building, online voting, Zuellig building
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