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Biz Buzz: Trouble at insurance firm

11:06 PM January 17, 2016

IT’S NO secret that this insurance firm has been having some internal problems ever since its new owners initiated a management shakeup two years ago (resulting in, among others, an embarrassingly bungled Christmas party two holiday seasons ago), but the latest word from within the firm is just downright jaw-dropping.

Biz Buzz learned that this large insurer has experienced what can only be described as an “exodus” of major agencies from its fold, no thanks to a large degree to its expatriate management team.

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In fact, the situation has deteriorated to the point that one of the insurance firm’s biggest agencies in Metro Manila—run by a lady whom we shall call Ms. I.S.—had to resign due to disagreements with the company’s new management.

When this happened, we’re told that the company’s CEO (who was installed by the firm’s new shareholders) locked her out of her office. What’s more is that this CEO supposedly went to the Insurance Commission and complained to its boss about the supposed poaching of talent by a foreign insurance firm owned by one of Asia’s richest men.

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Apart from Ms. I.S., another major agency based in a city in Northern Luzon (an insurance premium-rich location) is also said to be leaving the fold of this firm.

This makes industry observers a bit sad because this insurance firm has a storied and solid past, so much so that its agencies all chose to stay put even when problems were flying fast and furious during the last financial crisis about seven years ago.

Much of the companies troubles, we’re told, was due to the dislike of the staff and agencies for the current management team as well as the the big bosses overseas. Indeed, everyone seems to be missing the company’s former chair (who remains very visible in the press, but mainly because of his government job abroad).

So from being the country’s top insurer, we’re told that this company has slid down to fourth in the industry, ceding the top slot to a foreign rival whose office building stands not too far away from its own.

However, the current management apparently has its own fans who are not taking the issue sitting down. The pro-management group recently sent out a text blast urging the company’s stakeholders to rally behind the management and its expatriate CEO, and ignore the “demonic leadership” who allegedly wants to stage a comeback along with other officials now working for rival insurers.

And we’re only two weeks into 2016. Expect the rest of the year to be exciting (to put it mildly) for this insurance behemoth. Daxim L. Lucas

Solaire’s high-end gun club

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WHAT does a casino resort hotel do when the gaming patrons from China it was banking on come in trickles instead of in droves? Well, diversify one’s portfolio of attractions and amenities, of course.

That’s exactly what Solaire Casino and Resort is doing after it opened this week its newest attraction, an ultra exclusive indoor gun club, located at one of the levels of the development’s sprawling parking building.

Dubbed the “Sky Range” (probably as a nod to Solaire’s Sky Tower hotel wing), the shooting range is as modern and luxurious as they come. It has a total of 20 shooting bays, divided into 15 lanes for pistol shooting at ranges of up to 25 meters and five rifle lanes for those who want an extra kick (these rifle lanes stretch out to 50 meters).

Of course, like everything Solaire, no expense was spared to provide patrons with the best and safest experience. This includes have state-of-the-art bullet deceleration chambers, dust collection units and electronic target management systems—all designed and installed by Action Target USA.

Creature comforts are not neglected as Sky Range has its own cafe, gourmet snack bar, a 20-seat briefing room, a boardroom (in case you want to do business) and a cigar lounge. More importantly for this kind of activity, the gun club has its own locker room and shower room.

Its members don’t even have to bring their own firearms as they can rent some really fancy rifles and pistols from the club, along with tactical gear. Gunsmith services are also available for the hardcore members.

But like most things Solaire, don’t expect this service to come cheap, as it wants to attract the well-heeled crowd.

Individual members classified as “experts” pay a joining fee of P350,000 and an annual feel of P150,000, while “sharpshooters pay an initial P50,000 with an annual fee of P100,000.” Corporate memberships? Sure. That will cost your company an initial fee of P700,000 and an annual fee of P300,000.

Now that is premium pricing for a premium experience. Daxim L. Lucas

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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