Biz Buzz: Too successful | Inquirer Business

Biz Buzz: Too successful

/ 01:03 AM November 16, 2011

The local unit of British banking giant HSBC recently fell victim to its own wildly popular promo where it tied up with Cathay Pacific to provide credit card clients with free tickets on the airline based on the cardholders’ purchases.

Under the promo, cardholders had to present single-purchase receipts of at least P10,000 each, five of which would qualify him or her to a free roundtrip ticket to Hong Kong (10 charge slips of P10,000 each to get a ticket to regional destinations, and 15 such charge slips for a ticket to any Cathay destination around the world).


The promo was an instant hit. What the bank did not count on, apparently, was for its relatively more affluent cardholder base to pull off all sorts of tricks—often in cahoots with retailers—to come up with as many charge slips as possible.

Reports were rife of people buying thousands of liters of gasoline in one go (ostensibly for their companies’ vehicle fleets) and putting the tab on their credit cards, with the fuel retailer agreeing to chop up the purchase into P10,000 receipts, of course.


There were also reports of clients going to casinos and buying hundreds of thousands of pesos worth of chips (charged to the credit card), and then redeeming the chips for cash just a couple of hours later (again, just for the charge slips).

The “abuses” were so rampant that HSBC was forced to revise its rules to prevent the use of casino purchases and multiple purchases from one merchant on the same day.

According to our sources, the bank had to end the promo prematurely after they realized that its original cost-benefit analysis had changed dramatically. On the last day of the redemption for the promo, the line of cardholders snaked outside the Cathay Pacific office in Makati. Surprise, surprise: most of the people in line were the well-heeled—or their drivers, yayas and secretaries—leaving many HSBC executives shaking their heads in disbelief.—Daxim L. Lucas

Speaking of which…

HSBC’s “chief rainmaker” Jose Arnulfo Veloso is now “off the market,” recently changing his Facebook status as the treasury veteran exchanged martial vows with the lovely Cayen Sumner in a very private civil ceremony last week.

But if “Wick”—as his friends call him—was missing in action last week (sealing the deal, so to speak) the new groom is back to work at the British bank this week. Biz Buzz wishes all the best to the couple.—

Doris C. Dumlao


Backdoor listing play

Active Alliance Inc., a company led by Bienvenido Tan III, son of former BIR commissioner Bienvenido Tan Jr., has seen an extraordinary run-up in the last few days. Its share price hit the roof in the last three days, prompting a trading freeze in the stock exchange. Those who held shares of AAI last week are now nearly four times richer as AAI’s shares surged to a 52-week high of P20.55 from only P5.50 last week.

The reason: stock pundits are betting on a prospective backdoor listing. More specifically, some are betting that this is now the listing vehicle being eyed by tycoon Ricky Razon for Bloomsbury Investments, which is building a $1.2-billion integrated casino and tourism facility in Pagcor City. The “Razon” play has shifted to this stock from IPVG.

Dealers said this stock is indeed ripe for the picking as the Tans have two idle listed companies (the other one being Philippine Tobacco Flue-Curing and Redrying Corp.). AAI, in particular, falls short of the minimum public float required to remain listed on the PSE. Other than the monetary fines charged by the PSE, capital gains tax on future stock transactions will be very expensive if any company is stricken off the local bourse due to insufficient public ownership.—Doris C. Dumlao

Chavez vs The Firm: Round 5,738

Former Solicitor General Frank Chavez called Biz Buzz recently saying that he had notched another win in his long-running battle with some partners of the Villaraza Cruz Marcelo & Angangco Law Office, or “The Firm” (“…which wants to be referred to as ‘The Firm,’” read the original statement he e-mailed us).

Recently, Assistant City Prosecutor of Manila Purificacion Baring-Tuvera dismissed the complaint for perjury filed by “The Firm” partner Manuel Manaligod Jr. against Chavez.

It said that Manaligod failed to prove that Chavez deliberately made statements under oath amounting to perjury. The statements were taken by Manaligod from the affidavits submitted by Chavez at the DoJ in support of his libel complaint against name partners of The Firm.

“[The statements of Chavez] lacked the badges of clear falsities,” Baring-Tuvera said in her resolution. “Complainant failed to offer sufficient evidence to clearly and convincingly demonstrate that respondent [Chavez] knew full[y] well that the allegations complained of were falsities and that these falsities were deliberately alleged and sworn to in a document.”

The Manaligod complaint is the fifth against Chavez that was junked by a city prosecutor. The libel complaints filed by other partners of The Firm, namely Alejandro Alfonso Navarro in Marikina, Sylvette Tankiang in San Juan, Bienvenido Somera also in Marikina and Miguel Silos in Pasig City, against Chavez were dismissed earlier.

Chavez described this as a “stinging rebuke to the bullying tactics” of members of The Firm whose partners filed 11 separate criminal complaints against him in various places in the country, including Bohol.

“I kick asses of bullies,” Chavez said in his statement.

Knowing the guys at The Firm, of course, this fight isn’t over by a long shot.—Daxim L. Lucas

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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TAGS: Active Alliance Inc., Frank Chavez, HSBC, People, Philippines
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