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Biz Buzz: Telco plot twist

/ 12:21 AM April 20, 2016

More than a few raised eyebrows greeted the recent news that Globe Telecom might consider approaching the newly formed Philippine Competition Commission to help it secure some of San Miguel Corp.’s valuable 700 megahertz spectrum.

Some telco industry observers said there was some strange twist here given the broad consensus that the Philippines needed more competition—at least more than the existing two players—but the path was littered with all manner of roadblocks.

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Take for instance a potentially formidable partnership between SMC and Australia’s Telstra Corp. Ltd. that fell apart last March.

The usual business viability issues were cited. But anyone following those developments closely would readily note that Globe and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., after negotiations were revealed, raised such a howl over SMC owning most of the 700 Mhz.

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That spectrum, of course, would help SMC carpet the country with high-speed mobile Internet quite efficiently. Without a doubt, that cry, plus the upcoming election season that casts even more uncertainty especially for a telco startup—was heard load and clear down under.

As for Globe, critics said it has sometimes not acted in the best interest of consumers in its history—from interconnection delays to petitions filed before the regulator against Sun Cellular’s then-disruptive unlimited promos.

We’re not singling out Globe here, but PLDT has been quiet over what lobbying steps it might take.

In any case, SMC’s telco venture is still in play and president Ramon Ang said they were serious about delivering a better and cheaper broadband service. It’s not the conglomerate’s first venture in this space and here’s hoping this reboot will pan out much better than the last time.  Miguel R. Camus

‘Greenbelt of QC’

VERTIS North Mall, a chic new shopping center, is set to rise in Quezon City by the end of this year. This will be on the same big estate where Trinoma shopping mall is located and where new high-rise residential and office units and the biggest Seda hotel, with 438 rooms, will also rise.

Why does the group have to put up another shopping mall when Trinoma is already there (and rival SM North Edsa is just across from the street)? According to Jay Teodoro, ALI senior division manager for strategic landbank management, it was just like in Makati where ALI has both Greenbelt and Glorietta within the same district. Trinoma is like ALI’s Glorietta in QC, one that caters to the broader market. On the other hand, he said the new mall that would rise could be likened to a Greenbelt.

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Vertis North Mall will have a gross floor area of 62,000 sqm. An open-air interconnection with lush landscaping/central garden and water feature will traverse the entire mall and connect four retail clusters. It will also have state-of-the-art cinemas with “sky boxes”, including a 400-seater cinema with the country’s biggest screen and a balcony with recliner seats.

Vertis North Corporate Center, a three-tower office development, will rise above the mall. This will have about 121,000 sqm of leasable office space catering primarily to the business process outsourcing industry. The first tower will be completed by year’s end.

By next year, the Seda Vertis North will rise along with the second office tower and a green open space called Vertis North Gardens, which will feature a grand lawn for walking, jogging and other outdoor activities as well as an activity lawn with sloped, terraced gardens. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Branson in Manila

VIRGIN Group founder Sir Richard Branson is not taking any break.

Fresh from the sale of his flagship US airline Virgin America to a rival, the flamboyant British billionaire is flying to Manila next month to address the coun  try’s movers and shakers.

We heard Branson will be speaking   on May 25 during the Asian Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum organized by the ABS-CBN News Channel, which is also celebrating its 20th year.

The Virgin Group began as a mail-order record retailer in 1970s and has since expanded to the travel, telecommunications, health and banking industries.

No doubt the business elite here would want to hear valuable insights from the colorful tycoon, who was diagnosed with dyslexia and who is well known also for his love for extreme adventures and philanthropic initiatives.  Miguel R. Camus

New BPI Capital prexy

BANK of the Philippine Islands has beefed up its investment banking muscle by bringing onboard Juan Carlos “John-C” Syquia, formerly managing director and head of corporate and institutional clients at Standard Chartered Bank Philippines. The 49-year-old Syquia has been named BPI Capital Corp. president who will co-head this unit with Reginaldo “Reggie” Cariaso, who will be managing director and chief operating officer.

Syquia had also spent 17 years with ING Group’s unit in the Philippines, where he led strategy and business development. Before that, investment banking origination and execution as managing director for corporate finance of ING Barings.

But Syquia isn’t a stranger to BPI as he began his career there and completed the bank’s officers’ training program in 1990. He has an MBA from Fordham University and an A.B. in Management Economics from Ateneo de Manila University.

Cariaso, on the other hand, will also head the equities business of BPI Capital. He will chair the bank’s brokerage unit, BPI Securities, working with BPI Securities president Michaelangelo Oyson to expand the institutional and retail footprint of the brokerage.

“With John-C and Reggie on board, BPI will be able to further provide its clients the competitive advantage that comes with their extensive corporate finance experience, astute understanding of the local market and industry leadership,” BPI president Cezar Consing said.  Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

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: Business, economy, Globe telecom, News, Philippine Competition Commission, San Miguel Corp.
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