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Biz Buzz: Zest for expansion

/ 09:06 PM May 24, 2011

LOW-PROFILE Chinese-Filipino magnate Alfredo Yao is not only refleeting his airline Zest Air to serve a niche market in aviation. Yao, with most of his businesses (like Zest Air) acquired in what he described as an “accidental” manner, recently diversified into the pharmaceutical business.

The businessman has bought the aspirin brand “Cortal,” which was popular decades ago and which he plans to revive in the local market. Not too long ago, Yao’s group—whose cash cow is the 31-year-old Zest-O juice drink (which remains the dominant brand in its category)—also ventured into the local production of Indonesian energy drink Extra Joss.

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Meanwhile, Zest Air may just be the first Philippine carrier to offer low-cost long-haul flights. The airline is now planning to open up new international flights to the Middle East, which as everyone knows has a large concentration of overseas Filipino workers. Zest Air is in talks with a potential partner from the oil-rich Middle East to serve this route, where Yao sees opportunities despite recent cost-pressures from skyrocketing oil prices.—Doris C. Dumlao

MOST influential. Again.

FEATURED STORIES

A POTENTIAL conflict-of-interest situation involving Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. looms over the horizon over an appeal now pending with the Office of the President.

The case involves two orders issued by the Department of Justice lifting the hold departure order (HDO) and the watchlist order (WLO) against executives of Samsung Electronics Philippine Corp. (Sepco).

The HDO and WLO were offshoots of a legal tussle between Sepco and its former manpower agency, Temps & Staffers Inc. (TSI), whose owner—Vivian Anastacio-Guerrero—filed a complaint against Sepco’s Korean and Filipino executives (not against the company itself) for illegal recruitment.

The DoJ has since lifted the HDO and WLO, which prompted Anastacio-Guerrero to appeal to the Office of the President.

The DoJ has also dismissed the illegal recruitment complaint for lack of merit.

TSI, which said it was being “bullied” by the big multinational, brought out the big guns and engaged the MOST law firm. Edward Serapio (who represents the S in the acronym MOST) represented TSI during its last meeting with the representatives of Sepco. The M stands for Lisa Marcos, wife of Sen. Bongbong Marcos, while the T pertains to Joseph Tan. The O, of course, stands for Ochoa, as in the Executive Secretary.

MOST represents TSI in the estafa case filed by the Sepco officials, which is inter-related with the appeal with the Office of the President. MOST has already shot off a demand letter to Sepco for the collection of P10.3 million representing “services rendered.”

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How the Office of the President will handle the deal should be a very interesting test case as to whether the field of play in this country is truly level.—Daxim L. Lucas

AdMU [email protected]

THE Ateneo de Manila Law School is celebrating its 75th anniversary this 2011 and just like UP and UST, the school wants to have commemorative peso bills for the occasion. AdMU Law is requesting the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for an overprint of its logo on the 100-Piso banknotes with the year mark 2011 in celebration of this milestone.

AdMU was founded on June 6, 1936, with alumnus Manuel Lim as the first dean. It produced its first bar topnotcher in 1940—Claudio Teehankee, who would become chief justice of the Supreme Court in 1986.

Meanwhile, AdMU Law has no less than a former BSP governor among its roster of distinguished alumni—Gabriel Singson, who is also a bar topnotcher (he was a 2nd placer but the first in his batch had long passed away so he’d say in jest that he’s now the topnotcher).—Doris C. Dumlao

Say what?

WHILE the Ayala group’s Globe Telecom is doing everything it can to get in the way of the deal between Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Sun Cellular, the industry’s newest entrant has taken an unlikely position.

San Miguel Corp. president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang—who chairs the group’s telecom venture Liberty Telecom Holdings—said he supports the mega-deal that would result in PLDT cornering 70 percent of the industry.

“John Gokongwei is a good, very good friend and he made a very good deal for himself,” Ang remarked at the sidelines of Liberty’s annual shareholders’ meeting earlier this week.

He added, “We support it completely,”—a strange position for a new player trying to break into an industry, which many observers say will return to a monopoly after the PLDT-Digitel deal is completed.—Paolo Montecillo

Joining the RH Bill fray

AT THE Philippine Information Agency forum on the Philippine Development Plan, or PDP, a reporter asked the speakers what they thought of Archbishop Cruz’s comment that government support of the RH Bill was tantamount to admitting that it could not lead the nation out of poverty.

That day, Cruz was quoted in radio reports that the government might as well change its slogan to “Kung walang ipapanganak, walang mahirap.”

Economic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga Jr., the main guest at the forum, was asked in particular whether he thought the RH Bill fit in with the medium-term goals set in the PDP.

Paderanga, in neutral tones, replied that the RH Bill was “convergent” with the PDP. He said the promotion of family planning fits with medium-term development goals on furthering education, lowering infant and maternal mortality rates, and development of human capital.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny B. Coloma was a bit more feisty.

While Coloma noted that the RH Bill highlights “choice” and “family planning,” he also let out a bit of barb for Archbishop Cruz. “Mainam siguro mabigyan ng kopya si Archbishop Cruz ng PDP at nang makita niya doon na walang batayan ang kaniyang sinasabi.”—Riza Olchondra

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TAGS: Air Transport, Alfredo Yao, Ateneo de manila, Business, cortal, Government, RH bill, Sepco, Zest Air
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