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Biz Buzz

/ 08:29 PM June 16, 2013

Conflict arises in Mactan airport project

As the rollout of public-private partnership (PPP) projects ramps up, so too will conflicts among top business groups vying for these potentially lucrative projects and the next battleground is the P17.5-billion Mactan-Cebu airport, which has already drawn a blockbuster list of local and foreign bidders.

Biz Buzz learned that the first salvo has been fired by the group of Manuel V. Pangilinan. It has questioned the participation of South Korea’s Incheon International Airport Corp., the partner of—you guessed it—favorite rival San Miguel Corp.


The premise is simple and is, in fact, based on very public information.


The group claimed that Incheon Airport, which operates the famous and multiawarded air terminal near Seoul, has gained an “undue advantage” in the bidding process because it was tapped by the Philippine government to prepare the feasibility study and master plan for the Mactan Cebu Airport back in 2010. The study was funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency.

The basis of the complaint is that what should be a level playing field is now lopsided as the framework for the current bidding exercise was partly based on the Koica-Incheon study. This study has actually been reported by Korean media years ago and an old press statement in Incheon’s own website confirmed that it has successfully completed a service contract “with Mactan Cebu Airport concerning its master plan and feasibility study.”

Biz Buzz learned that MPIC-JGS Airport Consortium, Pangilinan’s venture with the Gokongweis, already sent last June 3 a letter to the Department of Transportation and Communications calling for the disqualification of Incheon Airport.

The transportation department, which prequalified seven consortiums last month, has been mum on the topic.

However this plays out, we hope it will not cause any severe delays to the bidding process as the PPP deal aims to expand and rehabilitate the main airport of Cebu, a hub of commerce and tourism. Miguel R. Camus



Farewell to Sanjiv

Despite the inclement weather and horrible traffic, top bankers, banking regulators and stakeholders joined Citibank in toasting Sanjiv Vohra, who was country chief for seven-and-a-half years, as well as his Indonesian successor, Batara Sianturi, Friday night.

Vohra, who is moving back to Mumbai this week, took the podium for the last time and noted that the old adage “time flies when you’re having fun” was certainly applicable in his case. “When I first announced that I was moving back to India, the reaction ranged from surprise, shock and, in some cases, disappointment that I have not taken up Filipino citizenship. Actually it did cross my mind and if it wasn’t for writing an essay in Tagalog, which is an eligibility requirement, I probably would have gone through with it,” he said.

Whether in jest or not, Vohra’s local immersion could be stuff of legend among Citi expats across the globe. “He is the personification of what we hope all of Citi will be: He’s a man of this place. He has woven himself into your community, into your lives,” said Michael Zinc, Citi head for Southeast Asia. “He’s more than just a banker. Vohra’s projects and community efforts over the years showed that he’s a man of great integrity and one with a big heart,” Zinc said.

The last seven-and-half years has been eventful, Vohra said, and if he were to cite all of Citi’s milestones, he would have had to deliver a two-hour speech. “Honestly there have been many challenges but it was also evident to us that the change is in the horizon and that we at Citi could contribute to the success and growth of the Philippines,” he said.

Suffice to say, Vohra said Citi has raised the bar for the banking industry in the Philippines and the highlight of his term would be the relationships he had built in the country.

“I may be going back to India, but India is no longer my only home,” he said.  Doris C. Dumlao

‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ in PH

No, we’re not talking about some narcotic or hallucinogen. We’re referring to the iconic “flying lady” hood ornament (officially named “Spirit of Ecstasy”) on Rolls-Royce cars. After months of anticipation, the luxury car manufacturer is finally set to open its first dealership in the Philippines. And its timing could not be better, given the growing affluence among Filipinos due to the ongoing economic boom (where the rich are certainly getting richer, among others).

Officially dubbed Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Manila, the renowned British brand has chosen as its local partner businessman Willy Tee Ten—a man who has established a reputation for quality and service in the Philippine automotive scene. Other car lines under his Autohub Group include the Mini Cooper and dealerships of Ford, Nissan, Hyundai and Mazda brands.

According to a press invite sent out last week, the launch event will be held on Wednesday at the Peninsula Manila, with Rolls-Royce bigwigs flying in to grace the event. The company is apparently expanding aggressively in the Asia-Pacific region, especially Southeast Asia, since this is one of the few bright spots in the global economy where people can still afford their luxuries.

If you’re wondering how much Rolls-Royce cars cost, the entry level version of the popular Ghost line is expected to start at around P30 million, going all the way up to P50 million for its top end models.

Of course—as the old saying goes—if you have to ask how much, you probably can’t afford it.  Daxim L. Lucas


PH’s top analyst

CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets head of research Alfred Dy, 47, head of a five-member research team, was named by Institutional Investor Magazine as the number one analyst in the Philippine market for 2013. Dy and his squad—which includes Hazel Tanedo, Raf Mercado, Jacqui Evangelista and Igo Gonzales—has kept such bragging rights for the fifth straight year now.

The magazine hailed Dy’s team for “identifying the market’s potential early on,” quoting a review from a Zurich-based fund manager. For instance, it cited CLSA’s launch of coverage on construction firm EEI Corp. in June last year, whose “eye-popping” advance since then from P6.02 to P14.48 by end-April this year had beaten the local stock barometer by 97.5 percentage points.

The magazine noted that Dy’s team remained upbeat for this year. Notwithstanding the recent pullback, the team’s outlook is for the local market to rise for the fifth straight year (approximating the number of times the team has topped Institutional Investor’s ranking) this 2013 with a gain of 27 percent by yearend. Doris C. Dumlao


Lotto text betting

Imagine never having to line up again (sometimes for up to an hour) to buy a lotto ticket for that life-changing prize you’ve been daydreaming about. Imagine never having to ask your company’s orderly or your household help to queue up for you again. In fact, imagine being able to bet and buy a lotto ticket just by texting your preferred numbers to a central betting terminal.

That can soon become a reality after the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and IT firm DFNN decided to move to arbitration to settle their long running dispute, which has held up the implementation of the so-called “wireless betting” scheme. There’s a long way to go before the issue will be finally settled and it is unclear whether DFNN will be given an exclusive franchise to this lucrative business (imagine all the mobile phones in the country as a potential betting terminal), or if other players will be invited.

There is also the issue of creating a robust computer infrastructure to ensure that bets are sent, received and booked correctly (the worst-case scenario being something like a repeat of the Pepsi “349” controversy, only on a more massive scale).

The ultimate question, of course, is if the PCSO is committed to making the idea of text betting a success. According to one insider, “definitely.”  Daxim L. Lucas

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TAGS: Business, business inside stories, Manuel V. Pangilinan, News, Public-private partnership projects

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