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Biz Buzz: Federal to LBC

/ 12:40 AM July 31, 2015

Federal Resources Investment Group Inc. (FED) has obtained approval from its board to acquire a controlling stake in courier operator LBC Express Inc. at a book value of no less than P1 billion.

In line with the backdoor-listing plan that pitched a logistics play, the company would thus be renamed LBC Express Holdings Inc. and its ticker will be changed from FED to LBC.

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The plan is for LBC to jack up its authorized capital from P100 million divided into 100 million shares to up to P3 billion divided into 3 billion shares with a par value of P1 each. The company plans to issue new shares at P1 a share to LBC Development Corp.

LBC Express currently holds bulk of all the daily cargo space allocation of carriers Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. It was the first to introduce 24-hour air service delivery in the country. In terms of distribution capability, it has more than a thousand branches in the Philippines and about 60 branches in the United States, Canada and a host of other smaller countries. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

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Chopper crash survivor

SURVIVING a helicopter crash three weeks ago was a harrowing yet life-changing experience that Patricia Echauz-Chilip, president of Standard Insurance Co. Inc., shared to employees, business partners, friends and agents during the 57th anniversary celebration of the country’s leading motorcar insurer Thursday night.

Coming from Puerto Galera with a group of friends—including businessman Archimedes “Archie” King who didn’t make it—she recalled the dark clouds that led to the crash into the mountain, which instantly killed the pilot. She was touched by how people from the nearest village, including a 70-year-old man and a 13-year-old boy, had promptly come to the rescue, climbing the mountain on a rainy and muddy day to help the victims get off the ill-fated chopper “with the speed of angels” and carried them down the mountain.

“When you are in a helicopter crash, it hits you hard on the head and you’re forced to think about what’s important and what’s not,” Echauz-Chilip said before hundreds of people at the Rizal Ballroom of Makati Shangri-La, noting that stress or dieting or eating only vegetables didn’t really matter under such circumstances.

“I thought about my life. One of the things that I thought was that I wasn’t ready to go because I hadn’t done enough to help the needy. I hadn’t done enough to help the people who needed the most,” she said.

So on the occasion of Standard Insurance’s 57th year, she said she was rededicating the company “to help those who needed the most.” Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Pasig stalemate

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WHATEVER rationale the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) had for putting the controversial “Payanig sa Pasig” property on the auction block, the effort is now dead in the water—perhaps for the next few years—after the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court ruled against any move by the PCGG to dispose of the property before pending court cases are resolved.

The PCGG put the 18.5-hectare property up for bidding a few weeks ago, but this was opposed by the former owner, Ortigas & Co. LP. Its controlling family is still trying to reclaim the prime piece of real estate because, they claim, it was wrestled from them under duress by the Marcos regime at the height of martial law in 1974.

According to the Ortigases, they agreed to sell the property for a depressed price of P40 a square meter to a dummy company of the late strongman, rather than suffer the consequences of going against his wishes (the nearby St. Paul compound was sold to its current owners at a discounted rate of P60 a sqm, they argued, so how could the Payanig property be sold for much less?).

In any case, OCLP asked the Sandiganbayan to stop the PCGG-sponsored auction where the bids of interested parties would have happened last July 14.

OCLP’s urgent motion was heard by the court last July and, after hearing the parties’ arguments, the Sandiganbayan issued a resolution dated July 20, 2015, which noted the PCGG’s own previous representation that it would not dispose of the property in any way that would be prejudicial to the rights claimed by OCLP—a commitment the government made all the way back in 1990.

The resolution then reiterated the Sandiganbayan’s previous ruling dated April 18, 2011, that the PCGG should not dispose of, sell or transfer the property to third parties pending the litigation of the case.

In other words, the court merely reminded PCGG of its earlier promise.

In any case, PCGG’s attempt to auction the property was already standing on shaky ground because only one firm showed up at the opening of bids, resulting in a failed bidding. And given the fact that the Payanig property’s ownership is also being contested by its present tenant—the Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson-controlled Blemp Commercial of the Philippines Inc.—it’s not difficult to see why the auction would fail.

So what’s in store for this highly coveted piece of land? More of the status quo for now, it seems. Daxim L. Lucas

Lingering questions

THE EMBERS of competency issues raised against the contractor for the maintenance and rehabilitation of the 650-megawatt (MW) Malaya thermal power plant in Rizal province are still burning.

Concerned employees of the power plant have sent a petition to the management of Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), which manages the asset, to drop its operations and maintenance service contract (OMSC) and rehabilitation deal with Korean firm STX Marine Service Co. Ltd.

“We, concerned employees of Malaya Thermal Power Plant, were not agreeable for the renewal or extension of management of STX Marine Service Co., Ltd. under OMSC agreement with PSALM,” they said in a letter, citing the Korean firm’s experience in marine transportation and not in managing a strategic power asset such as Malaya.

The group alleged that a newly hired STX Marine staff assigned to oversee Malaya was “not well versed,” “sometimes override some standard operating procedure (SOP) of manufacturers,” and dismissed suggested solutions “for the reason of avoiding expense.”

On the turbine overhaul for Unit 1 of Malaya, which was also awarded to STX Marine as additional project, the completion was reported to have been delayed from an initial period of three months to almost eight months as of July 2015—and running.

The petitioners claimed this has been the longest rehabilitation period for the turbine overhaul of Malaya Unit 1 since it was installed and operated in 1974. They again cited STX Marine’s inexperience and even those of its subcontractors, who allegedly “forgot” to install key components that further damaged the turbine.

Another issue raised by the petitioners were the lack of spare parts and consumables procurement as part of STX Marine’s duty to ensure daily preventive and corrective maintenance.

They also complained that they did not have a functional elevator and other amenities to ensure employee welfare, supposedly due to lack of budget allocation.

“In view of the above reasons, we disagree [with] PSALM [on] any renewal or extension of the OMSC contract to STX Marine,” the employees’ petition said.

The issues against STX Marine on the OMSC and rehabilitation deals have been making the rounds since last year. In January this year, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares even said in a statement that PSALM entered into a “questionable” arrangement with the Korean firm.

PSALM has, so far, not directly responded to the lingering questions on the OMSC and turbine overhaul deals with STX Marine.

In earlier statements, PSALM said that STX Marine had been determined “compliant” with the requirements and conditions set by the state firm during the relevant tenders for OMSC and for the turbine overhaul.

Malaya Unit 1 has not been operating since March 21, 2014. Riza T. Olchondra

 

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TAGS: Bayan Muna, Business, cargo, company, courier, delivery, Federal Resources Investment Group Inc., helicopter, Industry, LBC Express Holdings Inc., luis ‘chavit’ singson, Malaya thermal power plant, manufacture, Neri Colmenares, PCGG, Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp., Presidential Commission on Good Government, PSALM, Standard Insurance Co. Inc.
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