BIZ BUZZ: New boss + old boss | Inquirer Business

BIZ BUZZ: New boss + old boss

/ 05:08 AM December 20, 2021

PLDT Inc. is beefing up its management bench with a familiar face.

With competition in the space fiercer than ever, the telco giant is bringing back former TV5 president and Smart wireless business head Noel Lorenzana.

This was confirmed by no less than PLDT and Smart CEO Alfredo Panlilio.


“I am strengthening my revenue group and Noel will help by coming in as an adviser,” he told Biz Buzz.


Lorenzana is a multiawarded executive who has worked in the Philippines and overseas.

He joined the PLDT Group in 2012 and, after taking on several roles, was soon appointed to head the group’s MediaQuest Holdings Inc., the owner of TV5.

He quietly left in 2016 and has kept a low profile until recently, when rumors of his return to PLDT surfaced.

Panlilio has been making steady changes in the few months since taking the top post at PLDT.

The goal, of course, is to steer PLDT to a position to capture new opportunities in what may become the beginning of the postpandemic era next year.

For Lorenzana, curious onlookers wonder whether he will stay in an advisory position for long or if he is being primed for a bigger role within the telco group. As we say here, abangan! —Miguel R. CamusMPIC @ 15


It has been 15 years since businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange, rising out of the property rubble and reinventing itself as an infrastructure-focused company.

The strategy that has worked well was to pick up distressed assets, unlock efficiencies out of brownfields and identify allied areas for expansion. Along the way, “frenemies” were made and tiffs with regulators emerged (which come with the turf as these infra businesses are inherently highly-regulated), but the group has nonetheless built a formidable portfolio of businesses that people can’t live without.

During a Dec. 15 virtual program to commemorate MPIC’s anniversary as a public company—which also served as a fitting sendoff for retiring CEO Jose “Joey” Ma. Lim, and a way to honor other company pioneers—Lim reminisced about the group’s key milestones.

MPIC’s first infra project was water concessionaire Maynilad Water Services Inc., which it bagged in partnership with DMCI Holdings in 2006. It was a sinking enterprise that was losing two-thirds of its water revenues to pipe leakage or theft and undergoing corporate rehabilitation when the group took over. Today, Maynilad provides 24/7 service to 9.9 million people, 50 percent more than the population served back in 2007.

After a four-year courtship with the Lopez group, MPIC also bagged North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) in 2008, marking its debut in the tollroad business. From having just 64 kilometers then, MPIC now operates 230 kms of local tollroads plus another 174 kms overseas. By next year, its toll bridge in Cebu will connect the city center to the Mactan airport. New projects will double its footprint in this space by 2023 up to 2024.

When the Lopezes bowed out, MPIC likewise bagged crown jewel Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), now its largest business, with half of electricity demand passing through its power lines. Furthermore, Meralco has built an attributable power generation capacity of 1,521 megawatts and is aggressively pursuing 2,500MW renewable energy capacity in the next seven years.

The group also ventured into the health-care business in 2007, by investing in its first hospital, Makati Medical Center. In its first year, Makati Med’s earnings surpassed that which was generated in the prior 15 years combined. Today, the group’s hospital portfolio has grown to 19 hospitals, which generate revenues that are second only to Meralco’s.

Lim’s final story was about Light Rail Transit 1 operator Light Rail Manila Corp. “Unfortunately, it is still work in progress and although we are extremely challenged to complete this 11-km expansion in the midst of this pandemic, we remain determined to finish what we started. There is light at the end of the tunnel, however, as we are told that we are finally in the black for the month of November.” —Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

No price hikes

Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc. announced it will not be implementing fuel price hikes in provinces that were hit by Typhoon “Odette” even as prices of petroleum products are expected to increase this week.

This is the oil firm’s way of sympathizing with Filipinos who were adversely affected by the typhoon, as Odette caused massive floods and destruction in its wake.

“The company is aware of the damage that Typhoon Odette has caused in many provinces across the country, particularly those in the Visayas and Mindanao. As part of our efforts to help those affected, we are not pushing through with any scheduled price movements on Phoenix products in affected areas until further notice,” said Phoenix Petroleum senior vice president Raymond Zorilla.

Motorists in Luzon, however, are expected to bear the brunt of the price hike following five consecutive weeks of price cuts. —Karl R. Ocampo

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