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BIZ BUZZ: Legal headaches

/ 04:03 AM January 10, 2022

The shuttered Berjaya Makati Hotel will remain closed—at least for now—after Makati City denied the hotel management’s request to keep the facility open pending appeal of a Department of Tourism (DOT) decision stripping the hotel of its accreditation and permit to operate as a multipurpose hotel.

In a letter to Berjaya Hotel operator Perdana Hotel Philippines dated Jan. 7, 2022, Makati Business Permit Office head lawyer Maribert Pagente said the city was only enforcing the DOT decision which revoked its accreditation. He stressed that the DOT’s stamp of approval is required for hotels or accommodation establishments to be allowed to accommodate guests and clients subject to guidelines issued by DOT and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

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The city government padlocked Berjaya Hotel along Makati Ave. after the DOT ruled that it violated protocols when one of its guests, Gwyneth Anne Chua, a.k.a. “Poblacion Girl,” skipped mandatory quarantine to party in Makati’s Poblacion district. Shortly after, she tested positive for COVID-19, and guests and employees of the bar were reportedly infected, too.

For this violation, Pagente said the Notice of Decision dated Jan. 4, 2022 from the DOT clearly and unequivocally declared that Berjaya Hotel’s permit to operate was revoked immediately.

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Thus, Pagente said the hotel’s appeal or request for reconsideration must be directed to DOT as City Hall merely implemented the department’s decision. “The City will observe and abide by any resolution or order to be issued by the DOT, if any,” he stressed.

On complaints that the hotel’s closure has no legal basis, city spokesperson and law department head lawyer Michael Camina said Berjaya Hotel only has itself to blame.

“Berjaya Hotel should stop playing the aggrieved victim,” he said, stressing that due to its own negligence in allowing one of its guests to skip quarantine, the welfare and safety of the community was put at grave risk.

“Berjaya should not skirt the issue. Its negligence has been established and admitted. Laws have been broken, and the welfare and safety of the community has been put at risk,” he added.

Given its current troubles, it remains to be seen when Berjaya Hotel can again accept guests and whether it could still operate as an accredited quarantine facility. Abangan!

—Daxim L. Lucas

Blocked

Thanks, but no thanks. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) finally decided to block ride hailing giant Grab from the motorcycle taxi business.

This also leaves just the three original players, Angkas, Joyride and Move It, to compete in the segment and amid pandemic restrictions in public transportation capacity.

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Sources told Biz Buzz the DOTr motorcycle-taxi technical working group (TWG) recently ordered Move It to “permanently terminate” its partnership with Grab.

Recall that the TWG ordered the two to suspend their partnership last Sept. 30, just a week after its launch.

The alliance was suspended for apparently violating the TWG guidelines and miffing other motorcycle taxi companies, who would be facing tough competition from a large player.

The partnership helped provide more jobs given Grab’s vast network. This would also mean more options for the commuting public.

Those are important considerations when crafting public policy but it looks like there were other interests to satisfy.

—Miguel R. Camus

‘Rainmaker’

Deal-making in the Philippines has been quite robust despite the prolonged pandemic, keeping investment banker Mark Uy, country manager of Credit Suisse (CS), quite busy in the financial markets.

For the second consecutive year, CS was named “Best Corporate and Institutional Adviser (Global)” in the Philippines by Hong Kong-based financial publication The Asset. In its Triple A Country Awards 2021, The Asset also recognized CS as the country’s “Best Equity Adviser.”

CS recorded the most number of equity capital markets (ECM) transactions during the review period, including three initial public offerings (IPOs) and three block placements. Among the deals led by CS during the review period were: Monde Nissin’s $1-billion IPO, DDMP REIT’s $275-million IPO and Converge’s $522-million IPO. The review period also included the $40-million Century Pacific block placement in September 2020 and $53-million in January 2021, and the $97-million ICTSI placement.

More recently—albeit taking place after review period—CS likewise led the MREIT IPO as well as a $100-million block placement in Monde Nissin. Credit Suisse had likewise advised RCBC on the sale of a 4.99-percent stake to SMBC. There were likewise a number of bond transactions, including a fixed-for-life bond for AC Energy and a triple tranche euro-denominated bond issuance for Philippine sovereign.

By the way, AC Energy’s $400-million bond deal, where CS was a joint bookrunner and joint lead manager, was also recognized by The Asset as the “Best Green Bond (corporate)” in the country, while Monde Nissin’s record stock debut, where CS was a joint international bookrunner, was feted as the “Best IPO.” It also acted as joint book runner and joint lead manager for the Philippines’ 2.1-billion euro triple tranche senior notes offering, which was recognized as the “Best Sovereign Bond.”

“These awards are a testament to the strength of Credit Suisse’s differentiated integrated model and our dedicated commitment to our Philippines franchise. We are extremely grateful to our clients for their continued trust and confidence in us, and this motivates us to work harder in delivering more innovative and impactful solutions to them,” Uy said.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla INQ

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