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BIZ BUZZ: Next PSEi newbie?

/ 04:07 AM September 15, 2021

Now that there’s no more 12-month trading requirement to qualify for a slot in the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi)—for as long as a newly listed company meets the size and liquidity criteria —the stock market seems to guesstimate that another newbie could follow in the footsteps of Converge ICT Solutions Inc.

We’re talking about consumer giant Monde Nissin Corp., which has been vibrantly traded in the market in recent weeks. In its early days as a listed company, and during the historic $1-billion initial public offering, foreign investors were more bullish than the locals. Recently, however, the prospective PSEi inclusion play has excited even the locals.

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Since its listing on June 1, the company behind iconic brands such as Lucky Me! noodles, Skyflakes and Fita crackers and Quorn meat-free products has seen its shares appreciate by 35 percent to close yesterday at a new high of P18.26 per share.

Based on the PSE’s amended rules on insertions and removals, a company may be included in the PSEi if it ranks 25th or higher. Conversely, it will be excluded if it ranks 36th or lower in terms of full market capitalization.

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To quality for the PSEi, the free float level of a company should be at least 15 percent and it must rank among the top 25 percent in terms of median daily value in nine out of the 12 months in review, based on full market capitalization.

Monde Nissin’s market capitalization is now at P315.9 billion, almost at par with the P317.6 billion valuation of Universal Robina Corp., the nearest comparable firm in the PSEi. Note that there are other companies with valuations similar to Monde Nissin’s, like Golden MV Holdings (P307.6 billion) and Emperador (P268 billion), but they lack trading volumes.

Given Monde Nissin’s stock performance, there’s rising expectation that the company could make the PSEi’s cut as early as in the next PSEi rebalancing in February 2022.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

ABA chief

Veteran banker Eugene Acevedo has been elected as the new chair of the Asian Bankers Association (ABA), a platform for leading banks across 27 Asia-Pacific countries to advance the cause of the banking and finance industry and promote regional economic cooperation.

Acevedo, president and CEO of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), succeeded Jonathan Alles, CEO of Sri Lanka’s Hatton National Bank, as ABA chief.

He will serve for two years until the next board elections in 2023, along with ABA vice chair Oliver Hoffmann, who is managing director at Erste Group Bank AG’s Hong Kong unit.

Acevedo is the only Filipino on the board of ABA for this term, although in the past, there were Filipino veterans bankers who had likewise assumed the role of ABA chair, such as Peter Favila (incumbent Monetary Board member, former Trade Secretary and former chief of Security Bank and PNB) as well as Lorenzo Tan, former president of RCBC and UCPB.

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In the past two years, PNB president Wick Veloso had also served as ABA director.

Asked by Biz Buzz what he intends to accomplish during his term, Acevedo said: “We will do much work in making Asian banks more relevant through digital transformation, raising cybersecurity capabilities, building intra-Asia alliances and advocating financial inclusion.”

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Nepalese haven

Phinma group’s Southwestern University (SWU) in Cebu City, the first medical school to open outside Metro Manila, has become attractive to foreign students. The university currently has international students coming from 37 countries across five continents.

Since 2019, SWU Phinma has had the most number of Nepalese students out of all the universities in the country, and they ended up doing very well when they camehome.

On top of SWU’s academic offering, Cebu’s beaches are a big hit to these foreign students.

Recently, SWU received word that all of its 18 Nepalese graduates from class of July 2020 attained a 100-percent passing rate in their home country’s recently-concluded medical licensure exam. These SWU alumni were among the 50.9 percent of examinees who passed the exams in August 2021.

“SWU Phinma in Cebu City was our second home for the past seven years. We went there with the aim of becoming medical doctors, which we have finally accomplished. As we indulged in the lively school atmosphere and the hospitable Cebuano culture, we never knew seven years had already passed. We all are proud to have SWU Phinma as our alma mater,” said Binod Rijal, former president of SWU Phinma International Student Association.

“Whether it be studies or other activities like celebrating our Nepali New Year here, my experience was definitely fun and memorable,” said another Nepalese alumna, Saiby Pandey. “I will always miss the hospitality of the Cebuanos, the seafood and of course the beautiful beaches.”

Albert Gamboa, chief operations officer at SWU Phinma, said SWU considered its international student population and their licensure examination results a major indication of SWU’s quality of education. “We strive to keep our standards high and our resources and facilities world-class for the benefit of all our students. We are overjoyed for our 18 Nepalese graduates, as well as our recent topnotchers and passers of the Philippine 2020 Physician Licensure Exams.”

In the October 2020 Physician Licensure Examinations, three SWU graduates—April Jean Gapo, Jessah April Naingue and Carren Emirose Solidor —placed 8th, 9th and 10th respectively. SWU was the only Cebu-based medical school with graduates included in the top 10. Its passing rate for first-time medical board takers is 80 percent.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla INQ
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