IF PHILEX Mining Corp. has been defying gravity in the stock market, it?s because pundits smell a potential investment deal that can brighten prospects for the country?s mining crown jewel in the years ahead.
Shares of Philex surged 7.4 percent to P10.74 last Friday on expectations that it may soon gain a foothold in South Cotabato?s $5.2-billion Tampakan mine, touted as Southeast Asia?s richest, untapped copper and gold deposit. This is amid the unresolved issue on open-pit mining ban in the area that has scared off other potential investors in Tampakan.
The buzz is that Philex may be interested in buying the 37.5-percent stake held by Australian firm Indophil Resources NL, which is scouting for a new buyer for the block after talks with Chinese miner Zijin Mining Group bogged down.
But if Philex wants to buy more shares, the party it has to talk to is Swiss mining giant Xstrata, which owns 62.5 percent of the mining project. If Philex gets a sizeable stake, the addition of Tampakan to its portfolio will stretch out its extraction potential beyond the 2017 mining life of its Padcal project in Baguio.
As a footnote, Philex? big boss, Manuel V. Pangilinan, has committed to President Aquino himself to help boost the Philippine mining industry.
Aside from inorganic expansion, Philex is also widely expected to soon jumpstart its coal-mining projects to cater to additional coal-fired power plants that are likely to rise across the country in the years to come.
Doris C. Dumlao
The well-connected Mr. LC
IT seems like our item in this section about the ?businessman? who?s been looking for a bridge to President Benigno Aquino III (so that the new administration will not harass?or prosecute?him) created a lot of buzz in the business sector. The funny thing is that most businessmen seemed to know who we were talking about.
Giant retailers including Shopwise and the SM chain have been extremely bothered by the rapid growth of this businessman?s empire, who they call ?Mr. Letter of Credit.?
But the business sector knows that Mr. LC has connections far and wide, so much so that he can continue his lucrative operations even without special links to the Palace. This is sad, considering the business community knows all about his activities, but can?t seem to do anything about it.
Mr. LC, by the way, was deemed to have kept a low profile for a while in China in recent weeks. A ?bridge of the bridge? tried to get in touch with Biz Buzz recently, but has yet to make a connection. Abangan.
Third time lucky?
HAVING already postponed its initial public offering plans twice before, Cebu Pacific made another go at it last week. In its filing with corporate regulators, the Gokongwei-owned budget airline even did some chest thumping of sorts when it announced that it would raise the maximum selling price of its shares to P150 apiece from the earlier P95 a share, while offering less shares for sale.
The message, of course, is that owners now believe the airline to be so valuable that they can earn more funds from the IPO even while selling less of the company to the public. And who knows? They could very well pull it off ... except for that one teeny weeny detail: Cebu Pacific filed its new IPO plan last Monday, Aug. 23?the very same day an ex-cop went berserk and killed eight Hong Kong tourists in a Manila hostage drama.
The Manila-Hong Kong route, of course, is Cebu Pacific?s most lucrative, with the airline having announced only recently that it would even increase the number of flights to the former Crown colony (presumably, IPO proceeds will also finance new aircraft purchases that will serve its lucrative routes).
It bodes ill for Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines, however, that a wave of tourist cancellations (hopefully temporary) has followed last week?s tragic incident.
It remains to be seen if this will really be ?third time lucky? for Cebu Pacific, or if ?things [like IPO postponements] happen in threes.? Feng Shui consultation, anyone? Daxim L. Lucas
Being Cora dela Paz
FORMER Social Security Security president Cora dela Paz-Bernardo was as witty and funny as she was unintimidated during last Thursday?s grilling by the Senate on compensation of government-owned or -controlled corporations? officials.
Dela Paz, a CPA board topnotcher and the first woman to be named as chair of Joaquin Cunanan & Co. (now Isla Lipana & Co./PricewaterhouseCoopers-Philippines), was invited to head the Bureau of Internal Revenue during the term of Finance Secretary Isidro Camacho, which she declined. She agreed to become SSS president but only for a year, but ended up serving for seven years until 2008.
?Mr. Chairman, I never liked joining government, okay,? she told Sen. Franklin Drilon, who heads the Senate committee on finance. She pointed out to the senator, who was very polite to her, that she was a single mom and had to work hard as the breadwinner.
Then, she said: ?My husband worked very, very hard for government and he died shortly after.?
Her first husband, Wenceslao de la Paz, formerly the Office of Energy Affairs executive director, passed away in 1995.
Doris C. Dumlao
Hope for NBN
A SILVER lining looms over the government?s National Broadcasting Network (NBN 4) despite the dramatic battle of late between management and employees.
According to sources, President Aquino already has a list of of prospective new officials for the network. Employees are thus hopeful that the government will make good on recently announced plans to turn NBN 4 into something akin to the globally respected British network BBC.
There is hope, too, that employees with back pay and unclaimed benefits will finally get their due. Employees are not rejoicing yet, however. Not until the previous administration?s appointees have been replaced, they said. Riza Olchondra
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