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Biz Buzz: MVP in the NBA

/ 05:37 AM May 16, 2011

INFLUENTIAL businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan left for the United States on Friday amid increasing expectation that the big boss of PLDT, Meralco, Metro Pacific Investments, Maynilad Water, TV5 and Philex—who is also a sports enthusiast—may acquire a basketball franchise in the NBA.

Potentially the first Filipino and first Asian to acquire an American professional basketball team, will MVP add Sacramento Kings to the list of crown jewels under his stewardship?

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A spokesperson confirmed on Saturday that MVP had indeed flown to the US but said he did not know about whether this was related to the Sacramento Kings rumor. It was cited in sports columns last month that team envoys were in Manila to offer the franchise to MVP.

MVP could have only waited for the closing of the first-quarter corporate books to consider it as this foray into international basketball is not expected to come in cheaply.

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So how will the Sacramento Kings affect the businesses under MVP stewardship? Equity analyst Jose Mari Lacson of Campos Lanuza & Co. said that, assuming this was a serious consideration, there were no existing synergies with local businesses. But as a personal investment, he said it could be profitable for MVP.

“He has been investing in domestic sports franchises anyway. As long as ticket sales and merchandise sales are improving, it could be profitable,” Lacson said.—Doris C. Dumlao

‘Appreciating’ bonus

MVP HAS been in a good mood of late, after his Philippine Basketball Association team, Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters, claimed their second straight championship in the league’s Commissioners’ Cup against Barangay Ginebra Kings, owned by rival San Miguel Corp. head honcho Ramon Ang.
And what exactly will the cagers get for their efforts? Last year, each team member was given a brand-new Toyota Vios.

This time, instead of cars that depreciate, MVP said he was considering giving each player something that could appreciate—shares of stock in PLDT.—Paolo Montecillo

Incidentally…

MVP was also in high spirits prior to his departure to the United States. PLDT, after all, topped FinanceAsia’s survey of “best managed” companies in the Philippines, likewise ranking No. 1 in corporate governance, investor relations and dividend policy.

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The only category where it did not emerge as the topnotcher was that on corporate social responsibility, which was won by Ayala Corp.

Meanwhile, Aboitiz Power’s Erramon Aboitiz was cited as the “Best CEO” in the same FinanceAsia survey and Iker Aboitiz, also of Aboitiz Power, the “Best CFO.” The “Best Mid-Cap” company was Manila Water.—Doris C. Dumlao

SMC hopping mad

OFFICIALS of San Miguel Corp. were hopping mad last week after Standard & Poor’s cut its outlook on the company to “negative” from “stable,” due ostensibly to the conglomerate’s debt situation.

As it turned out, SMC had asked S&P to discontinue rating the firm as early as Dec. 1, 2010—almost six months ago.

In a strongly worded letter to the debt watcher, SMC’s Boy Edeza pointed out that the last discussions between both parties happened as far back as October 2010, with S&P not having access to SMC’s books since then.

More importantly, S&P only wrote SMC at 10 a.m. of May 11, asking for the latter’s comments (and not giving it sufficient time to react) before publishing its rating that same afternoon.

To this, SMC asked: What business did S&P have rating it when they haven’t had access to the company’s books or discussions with its officials for at least eight months now?

Whatever S&P’s motive was, it temporarily cast a cloud on SMC’s finances at a time when the company had just sold shares to investors.

Suspicious timing, SMC’s Edeza thought.

By the way, how about that stockbroker suspected of “front running” by heavily selling San Miguel’s shares before the company announced the pricing of its shares? Word on the street is that it is being investigated by authorities.—Daxim L. Lucas

Villar’s Vista
SENATOR Manny Villar may have been trounced at the polls during last year’s presidential elections, but when it comes to the local housing scene, it’s his company that’s doing the trouncing.

Recently, no less than four stockbrokers—the local unit of Deutsche Bank, CLSA, CitisecOnline and Asiasec Equities Inc.—put buy recommendations on Vista Land and Lifescapes owing to its strengths as a low-cost housing building amid a “healthy” property market.

The most bullish of them, CLSA, predicted that Vista Land’s share price will hit P4.61 over the next 12 months—from the present P3.12—citing the firm’s “strong earnings growth” prospects.

Why so? According to people close to Senator Villar, he has been coping with his electoral loss by redoubling his focus on his business ventures.

Indeed, on more than one occasion, he has been heard to say to friends, “Kung ayaw [ng mga Pilipino] na payamanin ko sila, papayamanin ko na lang ang mga investors ko.”—Daxim L. Lucas

Golf fugitive, part 2

TIM Allen Avramides, the former general manager of Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club, was escorted out of the country by US Marshals last month to finally face charges in the United States of allegedly defrauding people of $350,000, and consequently hiding in the Philippines as a fugitive for the past six years (and, during that time, working for the Fil-Estate group as golf director of Forest Hills, general manager of John Hay Golf Club and general manager of Manila Southwoods).

Many members of Southwoods—a club which, at one time, was considered the best in Asia—were shocked at how poorly the board of directors of the club vetted Avramides before he was given the task of running the club. Were board members aware of his dark side before giving him the plum job?

Tycoon Andrew Tan, new head honcho of the Fil Estate group, now needs to ensure that sufficient and transparent due diligence is done on Avramides’ possible successors by the Southwoods board and to improve governance of the club, lest the stink rubs off on the tycoon as well.—Daxim L. Lucas

Off to the Visayas

SEEKING to harness wealth outside Metro Manila, the Philippine Stock Exchange is setting up shop in Cebu to become the “staging ground” for its capital market activities in the Visayas.

The new PSE office, which will be inaugurated on July 18, will be located on the second floor of the Insular Cebu Business Center. It will have an investors’ lounge, a small version of electronic board and pseudo-trading floor with computers loaded with broker utility applications.

Trading participants are being encouraged to deploy agents and share in the expenses of maintaining the 74-square-meter base in Cebu, the second-biggest city in the country.—Doris C. Dumlao

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