Biz Buzz: ‘Kastilaloy’ problems
It would appear that mere Filipino mortals are not the only ones about receiving poor service from the bureaucrats of their government.
Believe it or not, even the country’s elite—society’s crème de la crème—suffers the same fate as the rest of us, even if they have billions in their bank accounts, run their own conglomerates and fly around in private jets.
Thus is the problem of this Kastilaloy tycoon—a member of a family of Kastilaloy tycoons who own a large Philippine conglomerate—who believes he was treated shabbily by a consul of the local Spanish embassy.
This businessman and his wife are holders of Spanish passports, and the wife needed the services of the local Spanish consul for a legal document to be notarized and affixed with the official seal. But this simple procedure took “months” to arrange.
Eventually, the businessman —let’s call him Mr. E.A.—and the consul agreed on a meeting date. But shortly before the meeting was to take place, the latter fired off an e-mail to the former asking that the meeting be moved by one hour.
Hey, what’s a one-hour adjustment, right? But Mr. E.A., probably upset because of the fresh inconvenience on top of the already long delay in arranging a meeting, would have none of it. He told the consul that he would not adjust. To this, the consul replied to the effect of “take it or leave it.”
That proved to be the last straw. An upset Mr. E.A. wrote Spain’s envoy to the Philippines, Ambassador Luis Calvo, a scathing complaint letter that opened thus: “In all my dealings with the civil servants of the Spanish government, I see things getting more and more difficult every time, in Spain and now here in Manila.”
While Mr. E.A. admitted that his tight schedule was partly to blame, he also complained that the consul “has too much to do and never has the time.” “I think that our functionaries should adjust to its citizens and not the other way around,” he complained, adding that he was paying Spanish taxes and had a load of investments going on in the Mother Country.
“I am formally registering this complaint against the consul, his attitude, and questioning whether he should even be in that position,” the tycoon said. “Perhaps he needs to reconsider his attitude toward his customers and realize that he works for us, the taxpayers of Spain, and not the other way around.”
“I question how he is treating Filipinos who need his services if he treats Spanish citizens like my wife with impunity,” Mr. E.A. said.
In any case, it looks like this Spanish consul chose the wrong person to bump off for his afternoon siesta. One could almost hear Mr. E.A. thunder in his Basque accent: “Joder! Coño!” —DAXIM L. LUCAS
Despite a tumultuous regulatory environment under the Duterte administration—which its founder and former chair Roberto V. Ongpin likened to being “struck by lightning”—gaming technology provider Philweb Corp. has been buying e-games stations from independent operators using its own shares as currency.
Philweb’s board has approved a plan to buy 15 e-Games stations of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. using as payment up to 7.5 million shares currently held in treasury.
You may ask: why on earth will Philweb want to buy e-Games cafes whose network had been shut down by the government?
“We continue to be bullish that we will be able to renew our license with Pagcor some time in the near future. So expansion to our BigGame outlets will be part of our long term strategy,” Philweb (WEB) president Dennis Valdes explained.
“We also wish to support those operators that we have worked with over the past 14 years. Some currently wish to exit the business so we are offering them an ability to exit by selling us their businesses in exchange for WEB shares,” he said.
Asked if Philweb is keen on buying out more of these independent operators (there were around 115 before the network was shutdown due to Pagcor’s nonrenewal of license), Valdes said Philweb’s “bullishness does not prevent us from examining all opportunities that come our way.”
This network consolidation is a big bet on Pagcor’s change of heart now that a new chair and controlling shareholder, the late Ferdinand Marcos’ son-in-law Gregorio Ma. Araneta III, is on the helm, replacing Mr. Duterte’s pet peeve “oligarch” Ongpin. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA
New crown jewel
As Alveo rises to be the biggest brand in Ayala Land in terms of profit contribution this year (edging out Ayala Land Premier for the first time), the group has appointed a fast-rising female executive to be the new steward of this new crown jewel.
Effective March 1, Jennylle Tupaz, former chief operating officer, assumed the presidency of 15-year-old Alveo Land. She’s also one of the youngest among the group’s business segments.
Tupaz is not only very good with numbers (she’s a statistics graduate from UP Diliman) but an expert in corporate planning and business development. She has been with the Ayala Land group for two decades.
The new Alveo boss has set high goals for the brand. While Alveo plans to bring to the property market a record-high P40-billion worth of inventory this year, sales take up was targeted at P45 billion (without value added tax), likewise another record high from last year’s gross sales of P38 billion.
Alveo’s projected rise as Ayala Land’s biggest brand this year is a function of the big launches made in the last four years alongside strong the strong market take-up.
In its 15-year history, Alveo has launched 84 projects in 12 locations valued at P206 billion, mostly comprising residential and office-for-sale units. This year, the P40 billion new launches planned by Alveo would consist of 16 new projects with over 5,000 residential and office units.
About 60 percent of Alveo’s launches last year consisted of projects in Metro Manila while 40 percent of new projects were in provincial areas. Moving forward, Tupaz said Alveo would increasingly rely on provincial areas for growth.
In terms of aging of inventory, Alveo has an average inventory life of 11 months, much shorter than the ideal life of 1.5 years. “What it tells you is that if inventory life is low, we’ve been efficient in using our inventory,” Tupaz said. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA
Status quo wins
For those waiting for the country’s first auction of telco frequencies, don’t hold your breath.
The plan, floated by the National Telecommunications Commission with uncharacteristic certainty for months now, would not happen according to the top official of its parent agency, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
DICT chief Rodolfo Salalima said he did not see any legal basis to hold an auction. Moreover, he frowned upon the idea of government making money out of any bidding, a typical practice elsewhere.
“If I am to be followed, no auction because we do not exist for revenue,” Salalima said, noting that only President Duterte can order him otherwise.
Instead, frequency assets would be assigned to legitimate players on a “show-need basis.”
It’s an interesting development since that auction (which also involved the coveted 700 MHz LTE frequencies) would have been closed off to industry giants PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom.
We think it’s safe to assume that any new player willing to invest billions of pesos to acquire coveted frequencies would want to utilize these as soon as possible.
With a show-need basis, any telco, even existing ones, can access these assets as long as it can prove the frequencies are “needed.” —MIGUEL R. CAMUS
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