Biz Buzz: Hanging Monetary Board appointments
Almost a week after the end of the terms of Monetary Board members Peter Favila and Juan de Zuñiga—a short 54 days in the case of the latter, who served the unfinished term of former MB member Ignacio Bunye—Malacañang has yet to name its choices for the highly coveted posts.
The Monetary Board, of course, is the highest policy-making body of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
Having a full complement of seven MB members is especially critical nowadays since BSP is trying to smoothly ease the Philippine economy into a domain of higher interest rates.
The latest name being floated as an MB candidate is Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. president Valentin Araneta. The former president of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. enjoys the support of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima who, as chair of PDIC, is his direct boss.
Araneta has acquitted himself well as PDIC chief, we’re told, with the only issue against him being an unspecified health concern.
Apart from Araneta, other candidates supposedly include University of the Philippines economics professor Stella Quimbo (the spouse of Rep. Miro Quimbo), Development Bank of the Philippines chair Jose Nuñez, and the bank’s former president Francisco del Rosario.
So—even at this late stage of the game—the two plum posts are still up for grabs.–Daxim L. Lucas
Changing of the guard
Three years after assuming the post of CEO of The Philippine American Life and General Insurance Co. (Philam Life), marketing veteran Rex Ma. Mendoza is taking a regional position at Philam Life’s pan Asia-focused parent firm AIA Group Ltd. His upstairs-transfer was recently announced internally to Philam Life and confirmed by Mendoza on Tuesday.
“I’m being moved to AIA [as] senior adviser to group CEO Mark Tucker,” Mendoza confirmed in a text message Tuesday. This post would still be based in Manila.
Taking over the helm of Philam Life is Bobby Madrid, another life insurance industry guru. Madrid was the first Filipino president of Manulife in the Philippines. He joined Pru Life UK in 1996 when the company started its operations, as its first president and CEO, retired in 2007 and assumed the chairmanship of Pru Life UK’s board of directors in the same year.
At present, Madrid is AIA senior advisor to the regional chief executive and a member of the board of Philam Life.–Doris C. Dumlao
In the bag
After neutralizing opposition to their joint takeover of Australia’s leading publicly listed food company Goodman Fielder, the tandem of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan-led First Pacific Co. Ltd. and Asian agribusiness group Wilmar International Ltd. are seen very close to bringing home the bacon.
The First Pacific-Wilmar consortium jacked up the bid for Goodman Fielder–which has a portfolio of well-known consumer brands in some of Australia’s largest grocery categories, including Meadow Lea, Praise, White Wings, Pampas, Mighty Soft, Helga’s, Wonder White, Vogel’s (under license), Meadow Fresh and Irvines—by 7.7 percent to $1.37 billion. This was after the duo’s initial offer was rejected as the Goodman Fielder’s board then deemed that the old proposal had undervalued the Australian company.
The acquisition is “getting closer,” a source from the MVP group said.
This deal marks a regional diversification of First Pacific’s assets, the bulk of which are currently invested in the Philippines, under the leadership of MVP who is incidentally turning 68 on July 14.–Doris C. Dumlao
Ties that bind
Conflict of interest is turning out to be a favorite tool in bidding exercises and especially in the Philippines—with only so many families controlling a disproportionate portion of the country’s wealth and political influence.
Now those guns have been trained on the Department of Transportation and Communications and the P65-billion Light Rail Transit extension public-private partnership deal, for which Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments submitted a lone bid.
Militants this time cited siblings Rene Limcaoco and his “kuya” Jose, who come from a prominent business family and now sitting on either side of the public and private sector fence.
Rene is an undersecretary of the DOTC, which is implementing the LRT-1 PPP deal, while Jose is president of the Ayala group’s BPI Family Savings Bank.
As recent news articles have suggested, Ayala, either by itself or with partners, is one of the biggest PPP winners—including LRT-1 deal—once it’s awarded, and more than one pundit has cited the Zobel-led group’s closeness to the current administration.
But in the case of LRT-1, both the government and Ayala are crying foul over fresh conflict of interest insinuations.
Ayala, for one, said Jose had been with the group for quite a while, hired 16 years ago as managing director. Moreover, he has no function in AC Infrastructure, which was involved in LRT-1, or in any of the PPP bids the group had participated in, it said in a statement.
DOTC separately said that the bidding process was done in full accordance with the law.
After having failed its first bidding round last year, the LRT-1 contract has since gone through several revisions just to make it attractive to the private sector. Even then, it drew just one bidder out of seven potential groups last May 28.
In other words, this is one project that has long overstayed its pre-implementation welcome.–Miguel R. Camus
Top pick: Mövenpick
For consistently getting outstanding traveler reviews on travel site TripAdvisor, Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu was awarded the 2014 Certificate of Excellence for the second straight year.
To qualify for the Certificate of Excellence, establishments must maintain an overall rating of at least four, out of a possible five.
“Winning the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence is a true source of pride for our entire team at the Movenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu,” Knuth Kiefer, the hotel’s general manager, said in a statement.
Additional criteria for the award include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months. Comments from guests include “beyond my expectations,” “strongly recommended for the stylish, cool & hip crowd!” and “beautiful.”
The property owned by Cebu-based businessman Manny Osmeña underwent a P600-million transformation that included work on all guest rooms, facilities, public spaces and the flagship entertainment venue, The Ibiza Beach Club, and resulted in the positive reviews.–Tina Arceo-Dumlao
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