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Biz Buzz: Billionaire terrorizes condo association

/ 05:35 AM November 12, 2014

This once peaceful, low-profile Makati condo is no longer thus. Biz Buzz learned that it has been subjected to multiple lawsuits spearheaded by a nonagenarian billionaire with his small band of allies.

According to people familiar with the situation, this individual has chosen to bully two senior ladies, who happen to be the president and corporate secretary of the condo’s board of directors.

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A criminal suit has been filed and, if proven guilty, the penalty of five years in prison would be imposed. Naturally, the residents who are all of the “de buena familia” set cannot understand how this individual can do this to one of their kind.

But for those in the know, this billionaire is known for his litigious nature. He has sued and is suing his own daughter, in fact.

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In the past, it was rumored that he fought with a well-known real estate developer (for spite, he set up a cemetery in front of the developer’s property). Recently, he tried to evict the partner of a former powerful general of Marcos. The case is now pending in the court of appeals.

During the Marcos years, he decided to take his own wealthy in-laws to court. Indeed, high society knows his vindictive nature and avoids doing business with him.

Back to the condo association, several attempts to hold an annual general meeting have been blocked by him by withholding the proxies of his small band of allies, thereby failing to have a quorum. As a result, the entire board tendered its resignation and asked a Makati court to appoint a receiver and a management committee.

Surprised by this move, he has filed a derivative suit asking for a court injunction on the much-needed repair of this decades old apartment building.

Failure to make these repairs will pose a safety issue, of course. Large pieces of plaster have been falling, as well as serious water leaks in the majority of the units. Rumor has it that he is going to Makati City Hall to have the apartment condemned.

It is further alleged that he has plans to redevelop the condo. By condemning it, he may have the opportunity to buy out the unit owners at a low price. Many wonder how this individual whose vast wealth was helped in no small measure by his wife (from one of the wealthiest families in the country) can aspire to reap further profits considering his age.

Now, there are two new developments. Sixty percent of the unit owners—including some of his closest allies—are opposed to the injunction he obtained. That is the good news. The bad news is that he has selected as his muscle a government official, whom he wants to appoint as part of the management committee (which has yet to be decided by the court). Naturally, the residents oppose having a third party who is not a unit owner.

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Moreover, the majority residents cannot understand how a President Aquino-appointed official to an agency tasked with going after the Marcoses is consorting with a well-known Marcos ally, whose wife was a “blue lady” of Mrs. Marcos.

(Incidentally, it is known in legal circles that this official had aspired—and failed—to secure a nomination to the Supreme Court. He is now said to be aspiring for the chairmanship of Comelec.

Clearly, the majority of the residents are opposed to the machinations of this aging billionaire but they are scared because he has the power and influence to motivate others. Watch this space, folks.–Daxim L. Lucas

AirAsia’s ‘fighting chance’

Malaysia’s AirAsia Group is planning on delivering a one-two punch against its larger rivals here, so to speak.

Biz Buzz sources said AirAsia’s big boss Tony Fernandes is set to fly in for a meeting Wednesday with Manny Pacquiao, Filipino boxing champ and probably the closest thing many of our countrymen have to a modern-day hero.

The event is set to take place in General Santos in the province of Sarangani, which Pacquiao represents in the House of Representatives of the Philippines.

Our sources say the meeting, however, is not about politics but … drum roll, please … about a partnership between AirAsia and Pacquiao, at least for his upcoming fight with Chris Algieri in Macau on Nov. 23.

While not confirmed, talks could progress further to AirAsia giving a Pacquaio-themed look—livery in aviation industry jargon—to one of its planes, similar to an agreement with Enrique Razon Jr.’s Solaire Resort & Casino a few months ago.

Fernandes has talked long about his commitment to grow in the Philippines despite various challenges. Maybe a deal with Pacquiao would give the carrier a fighting chance.–Miguel R. Camus

Uniwide war zone

The legal battle between two Chinoy businessmen—Jacinto Ng of the Rebisco group and estranged tenant Jimmy Gow—is feared to turn more turbulent as the parties wrest for physical control of the disputed Uniwide Coastal mall. The Police and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) have been alerted on the possibility of a violent face-off erupting at any time.

Ng’s Manila Bay Development Corp. (MBDC), banking on a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, earlier took possession of the disputed mall after a five-year litigation. Gow, however, obtained an order from the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) of Parañaque to stop MBDC’s takeover pending the issuance of a certificate of finality of judgment from the Supreme Court on a second motion for reconsideration.

In an urgent petition filed on Monday, MBDC asked the high tribunal to stop the Parañaque MTC judge who issued that order, Rolando How, from carrying out such order. Noting that this was a simple case of ejectment rather than an issue affecting national interest, MBDC had argued that filing a second motion after the SC had already ruled with finality was an “illegal pleading.”

By “flouting” the SC’s final judgment, MBDC claimed that the order of the judge was “causing tension in the subject property,” having been used as a basis by Uniwide Holdings Inc. (UHI) in an attempt to re-take possession of the Coastal Mall.

“UHI tried to do it last Nov. 6th and 7th. They were stopped by the security personnel of MBDC,” Ng’s group said in the court filing. “It is well within MBDC’s rights to rely on the final decision of the honorable Supreme Court in securing its lawful control and possession of the subject property. But there is no doubt that UHI will try to do it again. The possibility of violence and bloodshed is thus clear and imminent,” MBDC said.

Gow and supporters, on the other hand, have claimed that UHI’s contract of lease with MBDC was “anomalous” and should be cancelled, alleging that P2.1 billion had been squandered by building the Coastal Mall. They blame UHI’s financial difficulties partly to this lease contract, noting that the group agreed to build the mall on the assumption that the area would be developed into a premium commercial district, which never materialized.–Doris C. Dumlao

 

E-mail us at bizbuzz@inquirer.com.ph. 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: Air Transport, AirAsia, billionaire, Coastal Mall, Makati condo, Manny Pacquiao, Tony Fernandes, Uniwide
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