BIZ BUZZ: Leeway | Inquirer Business

BIZ BUZZ: Leeway

/ 04:15 AM April 04, 2022

This major local bank has put a skyscraper in BGC on the auction block, but it’s not because it’s in dire need of new money as business has rebounded well, with earnings exceeding prepandemic levels.

The buzz is that the bank wants to bring in more foreign equity and boost its competitive footing in the industry where bigger is always better. But given the existing foreign ownership restrictions in this part of the world, the bank can only do so if it trims its exposure to real estate.

Once the divestment is signed and sealed, industry sources said we could expect the bank to hatch next a buy-in deal. And it doesn’t have to look too far for a taker.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Of election surveys

The thing about election surveys is that they tend to be cheered by the candidates and their supporters when their camp is shown to be leading and, predictably, denigrated when the results are less than favorable.


But among the country’s top tier businessmen, election surveys are a key instrument, which helps them decide on how much funds to contribute to the campaigns of the candidates.

Of course, the biggest businessmen give to all the major candidates (and even some minor ones) but how much they give over the campaign period is always determined by the aspirant’s performance in the surveys. Simply put, the higher one ranks, the bigger the donations he or she will get.

Biz Buzz has heard repeatedly that one particular pollster is favored among tycoons for prognosticating the country’s political future and, hence, business climate going forward.

One tycoon, in particular, has had a 100-percent accuracy rate since the early 2000s when it comes to bankrolling the winning presidential candidate AND all 12 winning senatorial candidates (the only variance with official results being the actual ranking of senators in the 10th to 12th positions).

How? Biz Buzz hears this tycoon—and a few other cash-rich businessmen who have learned this trick since then— pays a hefty premium for this pollster to conduct privately commissioned surveys among a bigger sampling of the population. That means more work for the pollster, but also more accurate results for the tycoons.

When billions are at stake in the country’s ever-shifting political landscape, that’s actually a relatively cheap and smart investment to make.

— Daxim L. Lucas

On a roll

The Sy family’s banks are on a roll. After China Banking Corp. bagged top recognition at the 2022 PDS Awards, it was BDO Unibank’s turn to be honored.

We’re referring to BDO being recently named 2021’s Philippine Bank of Year, the fourth time it got the coveted recognition from London-based financial magazine, The Banker.

The magazine cited BDO’s new digital solutions, which include allowing clients to open or access online, paperless transactions and cardless ATM banking.

The lender’s expansion of channels and touchpoints likewise made access to banking services easier, it added.

“We will continue to broaden our market reach to improve customer access and strengthen our presence in underserved areas through BDO Network Bank’s branch expansion outside Metro Manila, complemented by our digital capabilities,” BDO president and CEO Nestor Tan said in a statement.

It can be recalled that BDO Network Bank—BDO’s rural banking arm—would expand its capital by P2 billion to support salary loans and smaller business enterprises.

—Miguel R. Camus

Committing to sustainability

As the world suffers the consequences of climate change, there has been a more conscious move to be kinder to Mother Nature.

Businesses are following suit and implementing sustainability measures to do their part, and consumers are on the lookout for such actions as they try to reduce their carbon footprints as well.

Budget carrier Cebu Pacific is one of them. Celebrating its 26th year of flying everyJuan last week, the Gokongwei-led airline reiterated its commitment to having a sustainable operation by having a fleet that emits less carbon.

“We are committed to growing our network in a sustainable manner,” Cebu Pacific CEO Lance Gokongwei said.

“Our Airbus 330neo, which we flew in today, has 459 lightweight seats, allowing more travelers to be carried in a single flight, which results in the lowest carbon footprint per passenger. This makes Cebu Pacific the greenest airline in Asia,” he added.

A330neo—“neo” is short for “new engine option”—has 25 percent less fuel burn. By 2027, chief commercial officer Xander Lao said that they would have a full neo fleet, except for ATR aircraft. This year, Lao said about six or seven aircraft would be delivered as part of its re-fleeting initiative. The low-cost airline, as of end-December 2021, manages a fleet of 74 aircraft, which includes six A320neo, nine A321neo and two A330neo.

While neo units are helpful in reducing carbon footprint, they can also fly more passengers as these planes have more seats, addressing the anticipated bounce back in travel demand amid the summer season and Holy Week.

Average daily flights for both domestic and international segments grew to 300 flights from 100 in 2020, the airlines reported recently.

The airline is also on its way to restoring full domestic capacity this month as it hires back pilots and cabin crew members.

Last week, Cebu Pacific flew its 200 millionth passenger.

“We remain committed to enable everyone to fly, and let’s continue to work together as we look forward to flying our next 200 million passengers,” Gokongwei said.

—Tyrone Jasper C. Piad INQ

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