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Biz Buzz: UAAP win-win

/ 04:24 AM October 15, 2014

Whether Wednesday’s UAAP men’s basketball championship title goes to Far Eastern University or National University, the country’s wealthiest man Henry Sy, aka “Tatang,” probably wouldn’t mind either way.

While the SM group has acquired a controlling stake in NU in the last six years, FEU also has a soft spot in Tatang’s heart—he studied there in the 1950s.

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The tycoon’s family also has an investment in FEU through privately held holding firm Sysmart Corp., which has a 21.52-percent interest in the publicly listed university.

In case of a victory by NU—whose athletic teams have undoubtedly gained a lot of financial muscle since the entry of the SM group as principal investor—this will be the Bulldogs’ first UAAP men’s basketball championship title after two generations as the last title was won in 1954.

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Actively cheering for the Bulldogs is SM Prime Holdings president Hans Sy, who had been consistently present in the last two gamers. Brother Herbert, who is in charge of the retail business, was likewise sighted during the last game. The Bulldogs can’t be accused of enjoying any home court advantage since the do-or-die game 3 will be held at the Smart Araneta Center instead of the SM Arena.

If the FEU Tamaraws bring home the crown, it will be their 20th. If so, their lucky charm could be former banker Aurelio “Gigi” Montinola III, who became the university’s steward in August last year.

As expected, Montinola is now more active in the family business after retiring as president of Bank of the Philippine Islands. He is said to be very excited with the championship match on Wednesday.

Montinola is very happy that the FEU-NU matches—initially presumed to be less interesting than that between arch-rivals Ateneo and La Salle—have attracted strong interest from students of both schools. Last Wednesday’s game, after all, attracted an audience of about 25,000, beating the usual attendance record of Blue Eagles versus Green Archers games.

Montinola said FEU’s alumni were “coming around and getting better.”–Doris C. Dumlao

CNN comes to town

The group of businessman and former Ambassador Antonio Cabangon-Chua unveiled more details on its partnership with American media mogul Robert Edward “Ted” Turner III’s CNN for “CNN Philippines.”

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Now, most of you might have heard about the partnership in the days leading up to the official announcement Tuesday (leave it to media groups to keep secrets from media groups, right?), but it does seem to hold plenty of promise.

In a nutshell, the CNN Philippines brand will replace 9TV (formerly Solar News Channel) of the Cabangon-Chua group. CNN Philippines will operate a studio in Manila, meaning it will have local content mainly on English, apart from CNN’s own shows. Of course, this will all be on free-to-air television when it is formally rolled out in the first quarter of 2015.

The model isn’t unique in the world. CNN says it has done this in other parts of the globe, but certainly the tie-up would be the first of its kind in Southeast Asia.

Cabangon-Chua, who is already in the print and radio business, said the partnership started out in jest between his Nine Media Corp. officials and CNN executives.

Cabangon-Chua also apparently really believes in the product—his group after all is paying CNN an undisclosed fee for the tie-up that will run an initial five years.

He cited CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who “exposed” the devastation—and subsequent inefficient government response—to Super Typhoon “Yolanda” last year, leading to the massive aid response that followed.

Existing staffers at 9TV also need not worry as none would be replaced. In fact, they would receive extra “training” from CNN, said Nine Media senior vice president Jing Magsaysay.

The best part—maybe for journalists constantly faced with the prospect of an industry rocked by an ever-shifting landscape—is that CNN Philippines is “on expansion mode” and the company is hiring.

If the ex-Solar News human resources unit had difficulty in drawing talent away from the big networks like ABS-CBN and GMA before, that certainly will not be the case today.

“After all, who doesn’t want CNN on their resumé,” Magsaysay said.–Miguel R. Camus

Daang Hari hangs

It was originally scheduled for completion by yearend, but it now seems that the Ayala group has little choice but to postpone the opening of its Daang Hari Link Road.

According to our source, a key section of the 4-kilometer toll road that will link Daang Hari (that runs from Muntinlupa City to Bacoor, Cavite) with the South Luzon Expressway remains unavailable for the Ayala group to build on.

The reason? The Department of Public Works and Highways has yet to secure the so-called “right of way” (ROW) over one particular piece of property on which the road will be built. Without this ROW, the first public-private partnership project awarded under this administration will simply not be ready in time.

More importantly, no one seems to know when the DPWH will be able to deliver this ROW to Ayala. It is unclear why this particular ROW is especially difficult to secure, but we hear that at least one landowner in the vicinity has been a very tough negotiator. (And we’re not talking about San Miguel Corp. because the earlier dispute with Ayala over the mode of connection to SLEx has long been resolved.)

According to our source, all that has been done in this contentious portion of the Daang Hari link road are so-called “advanced works,” which is basically preparatory work for the laying down of the real road.

On the part of Ayala, we understand that the conglomerate is “confident that DPWH will deliver the ROW to support the opening” by the first quarter of 2015.

“We have seen strong cooperation from affected parties to support a first-quarter delivery,” the source added.

Will this happen? It all depends on whether the government can fulfill its promise, of course. Meanwhile, motorists will have to continue taking the long and not-so-scenic route. –Daxim L. Lucas

New cold storage

Century Pacific Food Inc. (CNPF) is building a cold storage facility in General Santos City, where its tuna canning facility is also located. This is the reason why it has incorporated a new wholly owned subsidiary called Allforward Warehousing Inc., which was formed to engage in the business of operating warehouse facilities.

Like the manufacturing facility, the cold storage plant will be located close to the supply source—General Santos being adjacent to some of the world’s richest tuna fishing grounds like the Western Pacific Ocean and the waters between Southern Philippines and Indonesia, ensuring the availability and freshness of fish.

“It will likely be up toward the end of next year as studies are still being finalized,” CNPF president Christopher Po said.

The capacity of the proposed cold storage plant is still being finalized but the investment is not expected to be that big, Po said.–Doris C. Dumlao

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: Basketball, Century Pacific Food, CNN Philippines, cold storage, Daang Hari, feu, Henry Sy, media, NU, PPP, roads, Television, UAAP
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