Biz Buzz: New year, new office
SOME friends of ‘the lawyers from the firm formerly known as The Firm’—at least one side of the former iconic law office—were informed over the holidays that the side allied with former Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. and former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo would be moving to a new location.
As part of the Christmas cards and goodies they gave away last month, the Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia law office also included a pamphlet that contained a number of announcements, chief of which was that, effective yesterday, Jan. 5, 2016, the group of lawyers known to be close to administration presidential candidate Mar Roxas would have a new mailing address.
But, just like in love, breaking up must be hard to do because their new office will just be a stone’s throw from their former conjugal home with former partners at the Villaraza & Angangco law office (which inherited the monicker ‘The Firm’).
So close will the two warring sides be that their offices will be located along the same street (11th Avenue in Bonifacio Global City). In fact, the same announcement noted that the CMT law office would maintain an “extension office” occupying four floors of the CVCLaw Center, which was the building where the union fell apart a couple of years ago.
That could only mean that intermittent talks between the CMT and V&A sides for the latter to buy out the former’s interest in the swanky building (represented by the four floors occupied by CMT) have so far failed to yield positive results.
Incidentally, some friends and clients of the law firm believe their internal troubles started when they moved to their new BGC building, suggesting that the celebrated multimillion-peso structure had some feng shui elements that were unlucky for the union. Whether this is true or not, we shall see in the coming months.
Meanwhile, CMT’s holiday greeting pamphlet lists down 15 partners, 15 senior associates and 23 associates for a total legal compliment of 53 bar-topping lawyers.
But before our readers think that all these lawyers are doing work for the Mar Roxas presidential campaign, CMT’s Marcelo points out that their firm is all about doing serious work for corporate clients, advising them on their legal issues.
“Helping Mar is the job of Nonong Cruz’ side,” Marcelo tells people who ask about their political colors. “Our side, trabaho lang kami.”
Indeed, given their list of large corporate clients, it looks like they have their plates full in 2016. Daxim L. Lucas
New year, new Ferrari
DON’T look now but a North Luzon politician is adding another ultra-exclusive Ferrari to his garage already choked bumper-to-bumper with supercars.
A Buzzard told us that the North Luzon politician was one of the lucky few to get the TdF F12 Ferrari.
There are only 399 units of the TdF (which stands for Tour de France) in the world. All buyers are supposed to own at least five Ferraris registered under their name and they are personally known by staffers at the car manufacturer’s Maranello facility in Italy. The North Luzon politician has a garage in Bonifacio Global City and Quezon City.
So who is this North Luzon politician? He is the same guy who bought himself a LaFerrari in 2014, but changed his mind about bringing in his prized steed at the last minute. Why? Our Buzzard told us that the North Luzon politician balked at the P40 million in taxes and duties he would have to pay to bring his LaFerrari into the country, especially after news of his acquisition spread like wildfire in media.
The North Luzon politician has chosen to keep his LaFerrari in Italy, apparently hoping that a regime change will mean massive tax and duty discounts under the next administration.
The TdF, however, will be delivered in the middle of this year, a fitting gift for the North Luzon politician who is running unopposed in his turf. Our Buzzard said the politician had found the P15 million tax and duty for the TdF more palatable. Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
End of an era
ECONOMIST and treasury veteran Victor Valdepeñas—who mentored many of the country’s top treasurers (some of whom have become bank CEOs) under the so-called “Valdepeñas University” within the Citibank trading room—has officially bowed out as president of Aboitiz-led Union Bank of the Philippines in time for the New Year turnover.
Valdepeñas, now in his late 60s, was one of the longest serving bank presidents in town. Before joining the bank 22 years ago (he was president for 18 years), UnionBank had less than P20 billion in assets. It is now a P445-billion bank, the 10th biggest in the country in terms of resources.
The banker was also the most vocal in questioning the relevance of fixed-income platform Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corp. (PDEx) when it was most unfashionable to do so.
In 2013, an anti-monopoly case was filed at the Supreme Court against PDEx and financial regulators by former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., former congressman Luis Villafuerte, former budget secretary Benjamin Diokno and former national treasurers Norma Lasala and Caridad Valdehuesa.
The Bankers Association of the Philippines agreed to cede control of PDEx, along with other capital market infrastructure under the Philippine Dealing System Group, in favor of the Philippine Stock Exchange, subject to clearance by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
As announced during Union Bank’s stockholders’ meeting last May, Valdepeñas would be succeeded by Edwin Bautista, who has more than 25 years of banking experience and previously served as senior executive vice president for transaction banking, commercial banking, operations and consumer finance. Bautista was senior brand manager at Procter and Gamble from 1983 to 1987, marketing and sales director of the Philippines and Guam at American Express International from 1990 to 1991, and the vice-president and group head of transaction banking at Citibank, Philippines from 1991 to 1997.
In a period where the banking system is confronted by a host of disruptive technologies, Bautista plans to maintain UnionBank’s leadership in “smart banking”, particularly in areas of “innovation, customer delight and value-for-money through the creative application of expertise and dedication.”
“My mission is to transform the bank for the digital economy. This is the biggest challenge we need to overcome, but I am confident because the organization is so gung-ho about making sure this happens,” said Bautista.
Meanwhile, another ex-Citibanker has joined UnionBank’s board. Nina Aguas, former president of Philippine Bank of Communications, has joined the bank as director. She took over the post vacated by Vicente Ayllon. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
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