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BIZ BUZZ: GCash-1: Ghost Month-0

/ 05:10 AM August 27, 2021

The so-called Ghost Month did little to dissuade determined stock market investors from piling into the Philippines’ de facto technology sector.

We’re especially referring to large-cap telecommunications and internet companies whose valuations have been soaring recently.

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First, there was fiber internet company Converge ICT Solutions, which as of this week had gained a hefty 84 percent since its public listing less than a year ago.

Lately, excitement at the market was focused on the steep climb of PLDT Inc. and especially Globe Telecom.

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This was notable since both companies are considered “heavy” index stocks, meaning these were not the type to make huge price movements on a given day compared to smaller penny stocks.

But over the past two days, PLDT had gained 14 percent while Globe surged about 30 percent.

Chris Mangun, research head at stock brokerage firm AAA Equities, told Biz Buzz it was a catch-up in valuations as both companies were providing essential and highly profitable communications and internet services during the pandemic.

There was another reason driving the share price of Globe, which had gained over 50 percent this month alone.

We learned a large foreign brokerage house had issued a “buy” order for Globe a few days ago with an eye-popping price target well into the P3,000 range.

The main reason was the mobile wallet GCash.

Many might already know that GCash, a venture with Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, has been exploding in usage during the pandemic.

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There’s also the juicy prospect of a GCash initial public offering, which Globe officials said they were in no hurry to pursue, and its huge prospects for expansion beyond money transfers such as lending and investments.

In any case, the brokerage was so bullish on GCash it said the company could be valued at a whopping $10 billion and thus accounted for nearly half of Globe’s expected valuation.

—Miguel R. Camus

Fintech frenzy

Amid the market frenzy over the $1-billion valuation and first reported profits of mobile e-wallet GCash, all eyes are on the local fintech industry. While it’s a tall order to match, or even catch up, with the popular e-wallet’s market and financial clout, aggressive local startups want a piece of the fintech action.

Take U-Pay Digital Technologies Inc. for instance. A newly acquired fintech subsidiary of Tony Tiu-led Greenergy Holdings, U-Pay is engaged in electronic payment solutions and services. Tiu recently acquired 51 percent of the company from broadcast giant ABS-CBN to beef up his fintech ecosystem. Prior to its planned market debut, U-Pay was reportedly gearing up for a soft launch in early September using the existing network of Agrinurture Inc. and U-Pay’s Kapamilya ecosystem.

Through U-Pay’s e-wallet, Greenergy wants to help expedite the country’s digital transformation by providing technology solutions that ensure safe, secure and convenient financial transactions to millions of unbanked and underbanked Filipinos.

With the recent Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas moratorium on the issuance of digital bank licenses, Tiu’s Greenergy is well positioned to join the fintech game. Over the years, the company has quietly built its financial and digital ecosystem ahead of others.

Apart from acquiring U-Pay and rural bank BRB (both with Electronic Money Issuer licenses), Greenergy also has an existing tie up and comarketing agreement with Dennis Uy’s Dito Telecommunity which allows the firm’s existing clients, partners and affiliates to become Dito mobile subscribers.

Through its subsidiary Ani and involvement in the Makati subway project, Greenergy also sees huge potential in serving the financial needs of the untapped agri sector and future underground mass transport payment system, respectively. Expect to see and hear more about Greenergy as it explores the country’s fintech space in the coming days.

—Daxim L. Lucas

‘110 for 110 for 110’

Hunger and malnutrition are some of the most pressing concerns among Filipinos families, and Nestlé Philippines intends to celebrate its 110th anniversary in the country by helping out.

This year, the company is giving away P110 million worth of its products to 110 local government units.

The initiative comes in the face of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and the packages may be used to help local government units augment their respective “ayuda” packages for their residents.

As of this month, Nestlé has delivered products to the cities of Tanauan, Lipa and Batangas in Batangas province; Calamba, Cabuyao, and Sta. Rosa in Laguna; Caloocan, Pasig, Manila and San Juan in Metro Manila; and Tarlac City in Tarlac province.

Participating Nestlé brands include Bear Brand, Maggi, Nescafe and Milo.

“We thank all the Filipino families who are according us the privilege of being their Kasambuhay in everyday life, our employees both past and present who have driven our growth and continue to do so, our public and private sector partners who are making it possible for us to serve people and the environment, and other stakeholders who motivate us to think harder and lead better,” Nestlé Philippines CEO Kais Marzouki said.

Nestlé remains the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturer and plans to continue to operate in the Philippines in the next 100 years. Maybe even more. Congratulations, Nestlé!

—Karl R. Ocampo
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TAGS: Biz Buzz, Converge ICT Solutions, GCash, ghost month, Globe
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