Biz Buzz: Bloody Friday at TV5
Third-ranked broadcast network TV5 of the PLDT group continues to struggle financially despite the best efforts of its new management team, due in part to the cutthroat competition in an industry dominated by giants ABS-CBN Corp. and GMA Network Inc.
Proof of TV5’s stubborn prob …, or shall we say “challenges”…, was last week’s major “bloodletting” where a large number of staffers was axed in one go.
Biz Buzz heard that, last Friday, some employees were summoned to a room by management. Some of them thought it was going to be a department-wide meeting, so in they went, only to find themselves facing senior officials (as well as some security personnel, according to another source). Once fully assembled, the staffers were told that their services would no longer be needed and that very day would be their last day in the company’s employ.
The message basically was “you don’t need to report for work tomorrow” or something to that effect.
Naturally, many of them were stunned as they had just “returned to base” at the company’s relatively new headquarters in Mandaluyong City from assignments in the field and had not been expecting to be “pink-slipped” that way (although talk of another round of layoffs had been circulation for some months now at TV5, which continues to bleed red ink).
We’re told that “around 100” employees from the news and operations unit of TV5 Manila were let go, consisting of camera and field crews, drivers as well as production personnel. The massacre was even worse at the network’s Cebu unit where the bulk of the staff complement was axed.
Naturally, the mood was sad and somber among the remaining employees, with some of those given the pink slip in tears (yes, including a number of grown men who were hardened by covering gruesome crime scenes every night).
We heard that TV5’s management is busy plotting a new direction for the company, which has continued to defy the best turnaround efforts of the leadership of the PLDT group (which is also facing significant “challenges,” incidentally).
In any case, the remaining employees can only hope that last week’s bloodletting would already be the last, although in this day and age of uncertainty, no one really knows when or where the axe will fall next. —DAXIM L. LUCAS
It’s been 25 years since the unification of the old Makati and Manila stock exchanges into a single bourse that we now know as the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE). Aside from another landmark merger (with the Philippine Dealing System Group) that will possibly be sealed this year, there’s no better way to commemorate this silver anniversary than to move to its new home in Bonifacio Global City.
PSE is targeting to move to its new home in BGC by the fourth quarter of this year to make it “coincidental” to this 25th anniversary celebration in December 2017, according to PSE president Hans Sicat.
But what about the two trading floors that the PSE is now maintaining in Tektite (Ortigas) and Ayala Tower One (Makati)?
The local bourse would finalize discussions to monetize the Tektite space (estimated at 4,500 square meters) first, which meant rekindling efforts to sell the property, Sicat said. Property developer Philrealty, however, has the right of first refusal on this Ortigas property.
It’s a blessing in disguise that the PSE wasn’t successful in selling the Tektite property, Sicat said, because the BGC building project had taken longer than expected to complete.
On the Ayala site, Sicat said the PSE still had use for the office space. “We are evaluating stay versus lease versus monetize (options). We’re not in a rush,” he said.
Meanwhile, sources said the PSE has also settled the pricing issues involving office space earmarked for brokers. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA
Loose lips … pay up
Last November, Biz Buzz reported that UK-based reinsurance broker Marsh allegedly divulged highly confidential information owned by their client, Prudential Guarantee and Assurance (PGA), to a large aviation company. The move resulted in PGA being cast in a bad light, (with the scuttlebutt being that someone else wanted PGA’s business with one particularly large client). In the end, however, it seems that this backfired tremendously.
To recap, PGA held a local aviation account that it had faithfully serviced for almost two decades. For this particular account, PGA used the services of Marsh to broker its reinsurance placements, resulting in substantial commissions for UK firm.
Come renewal time—due to the crucial issue of the exodus of key Marsh aviation personnel —PGA informed the firm that they would instead be using the services of another reinsurer. Upon learning this, Marsh went directly to the owner of the aviation company and supposedly spun a yarn about how they were being overcharged all these years. As proof, they presented selected details of their transactions which left out key considerations like government fees. In other words, they made it look like the aviation company was being overcharged, when in fact they were not. More glaring, of course, was the blatant breach of confidentiality and unethical business practice that had transpired.
For a firm that prides itself as a “world-class risk assessment company,” Marsh appeared to have made a major miscalculation in this case. Had they bothered to ask any of the heavyweights in Philippine business, they would have certainly been told that PGA owner and CEO Robert Coyiuto Jr. is not a person to mess around with. Far beyond the money, Coyiuto is an old-school businessman who operates using a Sun Tzu-like playbook.
Fast forward three months later: After PGA and its lawyers filed information with no less than the UK High Court in London, Marsh reportedly was left with no other choice but to admit wrongdoing and pay an out-of-court settlement to avoid far greater damages. While the exact figure has not been verified, it purportedly reached the nine-figure mark.
That’s an expensive lesson to learn, and one they will certainly not forget. —DAXIM L. LUCAS
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