Biz buzz: San Miguel’s solo lead | Inquirer Business

Biz buzz: San Miguel’s solo lead

/ 12:30 AM February 17, 2017

In the race to build a new international airport for Metro Manila, conglomerate San Miguel Corp. appears to be leading the pack.

This, however, has little to do yet with the merits of the company’s P700-billion proposal: a 2,500-hectare airport and city complex, plus new expressway links to Metro Manila, located near Manila Bay in Bulacan, Bulacan.


The airport will have two to six parallel runways, and an initial terminal capacity of 100 million passengers per year—three times that of Ninoy Aquino International Airport, already operating well above design specifications.

We say SMC is ahead because it’s the only company to submit a proposal to the Department of Transportation, and is thus the only one being reviewed as we speak.


There’s another project, which like SMC’s, will be fully private sector funded with no strings and subsidies attached, at the other end of Manila Bay, in Sangley Point, Cavite.

It is the P1.3-trillion reclamation project spanning 2,500 hectares for a new airport, seaport and industrial complex proposed by the groups of taipan Henry Sy and Wilson Tieng via All-Asia Resources and Reclamation Corp.

This proposal, despite statements from the consortium saying it “signed all the contracts to make this happen” and that only the government’s nod was now needed, has yet to be recognized by the DOTr.

Roberto Lim, undersecretary for aviation, said they have yet to receive a formal proposal from All-Asia Resources even as one of the company’s officials proudly stated last year they had President Duterte’s full support.

Lim said the process still needed to be followed.

The timing of these offers matters for two reasons: Manila needed a new airport yesterday, and a new international gateway would take years to build.

When Lim faced the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines this week and revealed the DOTr’s plan for a “multi-airport system” for Greater Manila, he was met with immediate skepticism from some participants.


The big worry was the DOTr would again go down the road of analysis paralysis, which has plagued previous administrations especially for projects whose completion extends beyond a six-year term.

After all, this was a big departure from the prevailing “dual airport” policy. That policy means an airport such as Naia or its replacement (Naia would be closed in some scenarios with the opening of a new gateway) and Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

Having more than two gateways for greater Manila was now in the cards given the attractive proposals emerging. In projects of this scale, politics inevitably enters the scene, again a possible cause of delay.

The DOTr’s big challenge now is to navigate airport policy in a responsible and time-bound manner. —MIGUEL R. CAMUS

Macel moves on

Bar topnotcher Maria Celia “Macel” Fernandez-Estavillo—who had the difficult job of explaining Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC)’s side during the Senate hearing on the $81-million Bangladesh cyberheist earlier this year—is moving on after leaving the bank in November last year.

Starting March 1, the telegenic lawyer will take on a new role as senior vice president and general counsel of the Gokongwei group’s JG Summit Holdings Inc.

Estavillo, who topped the 1997 Philippine Bar examinations, had been a director of RCBC from 2005 until November 2016. She graduated from the University of the Philippines with degrees in Bachelor of Science in Business Economics (Summa Cum Laude) and Bachelor of Laws (Cum Laude). She completed her Master of Laws (LL.M) in Corporate Law (Cum Laude) at the New York University School of Law. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA

All set for Thunderbird

Some observers were skeptical when Thunderbird Resorts and Casinos announced an expansion program for its flagship development in Poro Point, La Union last year, but it seems the company is about to prove its doubters wrong.

This is because Thunderbird —owned by a consortium of Chinese-Filipino businessmen, led by Ambassador Francis Chua—is set to inaugurate tomorrow the finished product of the nearly eight-month construction program.

The centerpiece of the project, of course, will be the new and improved Thunderbird Casino whose floor area was increased 2,500 square meters, from its former size of 1,500 sqm. At the new total of 4,000 sqm, that means for gaming tables, more slot machines and more casino food and beverage outlets for gamers.

The expansion program included the construction of new accommodation facilities in  the form of 47 new villas, echoing the existing Santorini-style houses that have made Thunderbird Poro Point popular for family vacations.

The cost of the resort’s expansion? Thunderbird isn’t saying just yet, but it easily hits the ten-digit threshold, we’re told— not a problem for Chua’s group of deep-pocketed investors, of course.

In any case, Thunderbird is hosting a star-studded affair tomorrow, Saturday, to celebrate the opening of its new facilities, expected to be graced by VIPs from the world of politics and business, and its top clients, of course.

All this comes at a great time for the company as the province of La Union is experiencing a tourism boom, thanks to its beaches. Nice. —DAXIM L. LUCAS

ALI in Canada

Unknown to many, property giant Ayala Land Inc. has had a fleeting love affair with the property market of Canada, that country with a handsome “CEO” Justin Trudeau who welcomes migrants and refugees with open arms.

ALI teamed up with a Canadian property developer Rize Alliance Properties on a small mixed-use project in Vancouver.  It took a 49 percent stake in this project “The Independent” that offered 258 residential units, all of which have been sold out.  The project which sits on an 1.2-acre property also offered for lease retail space in three podium floors.

“It’s in a high-transit area so it sold out really well,” said ALI chief finance officer Jaime

Ysmael who noted that secondary prices for these homes had surged by around 50 percent to about a thousand Canadian dollars per square foot since launch.

But after gaining a foothold into Vancouver with satisfactory results, ALI isn’t keen on pursuing Canada in a big way. In fact, he said ALI may unload its stake in the retail component of “The Independent” to the local partner. “That’s probably it, for now,” Ysmael said.

Meanwhile, ALI is devoting more of its time and resources to its country of origin, where opportunities are still aplenty. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA

Village trouble redux

Remember the baker-slash-businesswoman we featured earlier this week? Well, Biz Buzz learned that there’s more disunity among residents in this supposedly “united” ParaÒaque subdivision where she and her family reside.

According on one long suffering resident of the village, the husband of this “Ensaymada and Cheese Roll Queen” got himself the chairmanship of the committee on construction of this disunited village.

This was, in itself, a gross conflict of interest situation because his family owns more than 30 houses, with some recently new or rebuilt ones and at least one new under construction.

When his attention was called by the association president that he had illegally given an approval for a construction project by another board member, he challenged the president to a fist fight.

The association president wisely declined the challenge and since he saw that the board had been coopted by the allies of Ensaymada and Cheese Roll Queen (previously referred to as Mrs. Baker-Businesswoman), he tendered his resignation.

As it stood, there was already bad blood between both gentlemen because before Ensaymada and Cheese Roll Queen’s husband became construction chair, because the president had earlier ordered a stoppage to the queen’s new construction activities.

Why? Well, it turned out that she did not bother to get a construction permit from the village association.

With the cease and desist order on the construction activities at one of Ensaymada and Cheese Roll Queen’s properties, she promptly stormed the village association office where she ranted and raved against the president.

According to a source, she also subjected another resident to her notoriously ill temper because her attention was called for a drooping power line from her property that had come in contact with a neighbor’s roof.

To bad for her long suffering neighbors though, because her popular bakery products sold in close to 40 cafes and kiosks in major malls means she’s raking in money. Who? Here’s a clue: MG. —DAXIM L. LUCAS

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