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New retailing format

/ 12:06 AM July 04, 2014

Early this year, it was reported overseas that Indonesian community store chain operator PT Sumber Alfaria Trijaya was planning to set up shop in the Philippines through Singapore unit Alfamart Retail Asia Pte Ltd.

It now seems that the country’s largest retailer—the SM group—could be its local partner.

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“We are testing a different store format but we can’t divulge more than that,” SM Investments Corp.’s investor relations chief Cora Guidote said yesterday, when asked about talks that SM may bring the Alfamart chain to the country.

At present, the convenience store chain is the only retailing segment that the SM group has yet to get into. With its stiffest competitors already in this segment (Lucio Co-led Puregold Priced Club is set to roll out the Lawson chain).

For its part, Alfamart is one of the Indonesia leading retailers, serving more than 2.5 million customers daily, with about 7,000 stores and over 70,000 employees in Southeast Asia’s largest economy. Doris C. Dumlao

Fil-Ams for Yolanda relief

Chart-topping hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas had a recent benefit concert at the outdoor Greek Theater in Los Angeles and the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF)—which is co-chaired by Manuel V. Pangilinan, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle—used the occasion to talk about continuing disaster recovery work in the Philippines.

Butch Meily, president of PDRF, which is reputedly the world’s only permanent private sector disaster response organization, spoke before the sellout crowd of over 5,000 about what he and Black Eyed Peas member Apl.de.Ap saw and smelled when they visited hard-hit Tacloban City in November last year, when Supertyphoon “Yolanda” tore across central Philippines.

Meily told the crowd that one person can indeed make a difference in the lives of people recovering from disasters and that he hoped everyone will do their share for their countrymen back home.

Filipino-American Apl.de.Ap has been a big supporter of Philippine causes and did not hesitate to respond to the call for help.

Smart Communications was a sponsor of the concert that also featured other Filipino-American artists based in the United States. Tina Arceo-Dumlao

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Bernanke in PH

After bringing internationally renowned economists Nouriel Roubini and Carmen Reinhart to the Philippines, First Metro Investment Corp. president Jojo Dispo told investors in a briefing Thursday that FMIC would bring in another exciting economic speaker to local shores: retired US Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke.

Bernanke served two terms as US Fed chair starting in 2006 before passing the baton to Janet Yellen early this year.

But if Bernanke can’t make it, Dispo said he would just ask First Metro Asset Management Inc. president Gus Cosio to “grow his beard.”

Meanwhile, Dispo said FMIC is also keen on inviting Yellen’s husband, Nobel Prize-winning economist George Akerlof to speak in one of FMIC’s future conferences. Doris C. Dumlao

Ayala eyesore… bought?

For a little over a decade and a half, it has stood along the valuable Ayala Avenue strip as a reminder of the follies of the 1997 East Asian financial crisis.

With construction having begun in 1996, the JAKA Tower—owned by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s JAKA Property Group. — soon fell victim to the economic crash that swept across the region. Construction stopped soon after, and it never made it to its planned 1999 completion date.

Since then, various interested parties and business groups have reportedly approached the Enrile family, asking to buy the unfinished building (which has replaced the now gleaming Alphaland Southgate Tower as Makati City’s biggest and tallest eyesore). But, over the years, the feedback from spurned buyers has often been that the Enriles were selling at what they frequently described as “presyong hindi nagbebenta” (or an asking price of someone unwilling to sell).

In recent years, however, the old lawmaker seemed to have softened his stance and sounded increasingly like he was willing to sell—so much so that one mid-sized but rapidly growing business group had put forward an offer to buy the planned 49-storey tower near the northwestern corner of the Makati central business district.

“We were almost sure we’d get it,” said one official of the group.

But lo and behold. Word on the street is that the increasingly aggressive Ayala group finally stepped in and put in an offer the building owners could not refuse. Word now is that it is virtually a done deal and that the Ayala group will soon have another prime office building in its portfolio.

The buying price that broke the 15-year impasse? A rumored P1.4 billion. Nice. Daxim L. Lucas

E-mail us at [email protected] Get business alerts and a preview of Biz Buzz the evening before it comes out. Text ON INQ BUSINESS to 4467 (P2.50/alert)

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TAGS: ayala eyesore, Ben Bernanke, benefit concert, Biz Buzz, black eyed peas, Business, column, jaka tower, retailing, US Federal Reserve, Yolanda relief drive
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