Biz Buzz: Chopper buzz | Inquirer Business

Biz Buzz: Chopper buzz

/ 12:36 AM August 05, 2016

Here’s one story tailor-made for Biz Buzz because it created buzzes, literally—the ear-splitting sound produced by helicopter propellers, and the din or noise of people talking animatedly.

On Wednesday, one such chopper landed at the helipad of the Batasang Pambansa and guess who disembarked from it? No one else but a representative from a certain party-list organization.


The grand arrival of this party-list representative raised guffaws at the House, including from one staffer who said he thought it was one of the House multi-millionaires who had arrived. He was not mistaken though.

This is because this party-list representative may be safely assumed to be a multi-millionaire himself being a businessman and the leader of a “cabal” of businessmen in the industry he represents. Indeed, a reporter once bluntly characterized the group he leads as a lobby group masquerading as a party-list organization.


What did not sit well with those who saw this representative disembark from the chopper was the nagging question: How can someone supposed to represent a marginalized sector callously display the trappings of wealth?

“This is why President Duterte wants the party-list system abolished. It has become a plaything of the rich who also want to walk the corridors of power,” commented a staff of another congressman.

This episode brings back to mind the opposition raised by the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) when it tried to block the participation in the 2013 elections of this party-list organization that claims to represent consumers who buy a particular household cooking necessity.

According to FPI, this group does not represent a “marginalized sector” as defined by Republic Act 7941. Under the Party-List Act cited by FPI, the marginalized sectors are the peasant, fisher folk, urban poor, indigenous communities and the like.

To many who saw the party-list man get off the chopper, no amount of stretching the definition of “marginalized” can be made to make the businessman-representative—or his party list-organization—fit the bill. Daxim L. Lucas

MVP group shakeup

A TOP level management change is in the works for the Manuel V. Pangilinan group of companies.


With the recent administration shift, we hear Pangilinan is looking to lure back former Maynilad Water Services Inc. president Rogelio Singson, who answered President Aquino’s call to join government service six years ago as head of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Needless to say, Singson did a fine job at the department and we hear a post is waiting for him back at the group.

Singson’s return, if finalized, would mirror the homecoming of Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, another water executive who joined president Aquino’s administration.

Like Singson, Almendras left his post as head of Ayala Corp.’s Manila Water Co. Inc. six years ago only to return this week as head of the infrastructure arm of Ayala. The post was previously held by John Eric Francia, who played a pivotal role in establishing the group’s foray into new business. Francia will focus on Ayala’s energy interests following the revamp.

The question, of course, is which unit—and job—Singson would assume. One thing seems certain at this point, he won’t be back at Maynilad, since current president Ramoncito Fernandez was already doing a “great” job, we heard.

Elsewhere in the group, we heard TV5’s top boss Emmanuel Lorenzana is poised to leave the group though we understand a formal announcement has yet to be made.

More details on this, as they come. Until then, abangan! Miguel R. Camus

Future SM Retail IPO

AFTER consolidating its retail businesses under one big roof, the group of tycoon Henry Sy is reserving the option to list SM Retail someday—this being SM Investments Corp.’s  (SMIC) only core business (aside from property and banking) that is still privately-held.

This may not be an immediate plan for now but it’s not far-fetched to bring the consolidated SM Retail public.  SMIC chief finance officer Jose Sio says such potential undertaking will not make SMIC any less attractive to investors (who might just directly invest in the operating company).

“We know it’s an option. It has an incremental value that’s waiting to be tapped by SMIC,” Sio said.

“Some of the assets owned by SMIC, including the retail group have some value which have not been realized by SMIC. Once we list SM Retail, the value of that retail group to SMIC also goes up,” he said.

Even assuming a price-to-earnings (P/E ratio) value of just 17 to 18 times (the market has been trading at over 20 times), Sio said SM Retail would be the biggest retail group in the Philippines in terms of value. “It is not only the biggest retail group, it is the retail group with the widest varieties of retail products,” Sio said. “You cannot find this kind of retail in one group even in Southeast Asia.”

The consolidated SM Retail group creates an enterprise with 1,700 stores with combined revenue of P253 billion compared to only 310 stores and P215 billion revenue before the merger. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Overweight on Fujian

IT’S the province where most Chinoys descended from and it’s also the place where SM Prime Holdings started its offshore expansion.  Moving forward, SM Prime wants to build more shopping malls in Fujian, which is on China’s southeastern coast, rather than scatter itself all over the mainland, SM Prime’s new president, Jeffrey Lim, said.

“Most of the Fujian province people know SM now because we’ve been doing Xiamen mall for the last 10 years,” he said.

SM Prime has six malls in China, of which two are in Fujian.  Of the two malls in Fujian, one is in Xiamen and another one in patriarch Henry Sy Sr.’s hometown,  Jinjiang.

Meanwhile, SM Prime’s largest shopping mall in China, is set to open by September or October this year.

Currently, SM Prime has a total of 58 malls in the Philippines and six in China for a gross floor area (GFA) of 8.5 million square meters. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

New GCG head

BIZ Buzz learned that Malacañang has already appointed a new head for the Governance Commission on GOCCs last week in the person of lawyer Jaime Ma. Flores II as its chair.

Together with Commissioners Michael Cloribel and Samuel Dagpin, and ex-officio members Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, he is in charge or vetting the hundreds, maybe thousands, of names that will be suggested to President Duterte for appointment in various government firms.

Flores is, we’re told, a man intent on fulfilling his mission to the letter. And when it comes to ensuring that only the most upright are appointed to the numerous government-owned and -controlled corporations, he puts his money where his mouth is.

In fact, his first instruction as GCG head was “remove the protocol plates installed on GCG service vehicles. Pantay-pantay tayong lahat. (We are all equal).”

That’s an impressive start.  Daxim L. Lucas

Barenaked PLDT

PLDT might have stumbled in the telecommunications space—even losing valuable market share to main rival Globe—but the telco never compromised on corporate governance, even if it hurts.

In a light moment this week, PLDT chair Manuel V. Pangilinan talked about the company’s culture of transparency, which at times left one feeling exposed, in every aspect of the word.

“After the board meeting of PLDT, you feel like you’re naked,” Pangilinan quipped.

He made the comments as PLDT saw its share price tank about 12.5 percent in the two days since it reported a fall in first half 2016 earnings (it saw a more than P5-billion write-down from its investment in Germany’s Rocket Internet). It also announced that it cut its dividend payment to 60 percent of core profit from 75 percent.

Apparently, there are few things you can hide from the company’s internal transparency watchdogs.  PLDT, as a result, wins various corporate governance awards. Pangilinan said this was still a positive sign for investors, even if these plaques were sometimes small “plastic” trophies.

“It’s still good. But sometimes, when you’re in difficulty, you feel the heat,” he said.  Miguel R. Camus

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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