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BIZ BUZZ: First choice

/ 04:35 AM May 23, 2022

On the surface, it looks like presumptive President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is having a challenging time assembling a team that will help the incoming administration navigate the choppy economic waters expected in the coming years.

But that’s only on the surface. Biz Buzz understands that the key players of the new president’s economic team have, in fact, already been chosen. Those positions that have yet to be filled, meanwhile, are just waiting for the final selection from lists that have already been narrowed down significantly.

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So what are they waiting for? Well, basically, Marcos’ team just wants to wait for the official proclamation of the new president, which is expected to happen later this week. Once that happens, the list will be unveiled. And there’s a good chance the business community will be pleased.

Biz Buzz hears that one name that is likely to figure very prominently in the new economic team will be that of billionaire businessman Frederick “Deck” Go who is currently the president and CEO of one of the country’s largest property developers, Robinsons Land Corp.

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Go is, of course, a key player in the JG Summit conglomerate led by his cousin, Lance Gokongwei, and one has to wonder why a successful businessman like him would want the headaches that normally come with a government job.

Well, for one, he has an impressive track record in the field of business, so maybe it’s time for a new challenge for the young tycoon. After all, he knows all about what it takes to help the economy grow from the perspective of a leader who is in charge of creating and sustaining jobs for thousands of employees, and satisfying even more customers.

We hear that the presumptive president has had his eye on Go as early as the start of the campaign period when the former asked the latter what he thought of the Duterte administration’s infrastructure program and how it could be improved.

The question remains, however, as to whether Go is willing to make a big personal sacrifice of setting the family business aside—for a few years, at least—and dedicate 24/7 of his time to leading the Marcos administration’s economic team.

If he does take on the challenge, though, the Gokongwei conglomerate’s temporary loss may well turn out to be the country’s long-term gain. Watch this space, folks.

—Daxim L. Lucas

Prelude to a partnership?

Telco giant PLDT Inc. is having its own leadership reshuffle at its flagship wireless business, Smart Communications, and media arm, MediaQuest Holdings.

Announced internally last week, PLDT named Francis Flores, the global marketing head of Tony Tan Caktiong’s Jollibee Foods Corp., as its new head of consumer business group effective June 16 this year.

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He will replace Jane Basas, who was assigned the PLDT’s entire media portfolio as the CEO of MediaQuest, whose companies include Cignal, TV5, Philstar and BusinessWorld.

Manila Electric Co. CEO Ray Espinosa—who surprisingly found the time to run MediaQuest alongside numerous other responsibilities— will cede the top post to Basas but will remain a director within the media group.

Basas starts her new role at MediaQuest on June 1. It is a comeback of sorts for her, having built a solid track record expanding satellite TV business Cignal before moving to run Smart two years ago.

Basas was expected to “redefine” PLDT’s media strategy and also take charge of “unlocking” value within MediaQuest.

“Unlocking” is an interesting term as it can also mean mergers, sales or even acquisitions. We shall be watching closely how these changes impact the competitive landscape alongside another important transition, that of a new government taking over in July.

The big question, of course, is if these moves involving key personnel are related to the rumor that TV5 will soon enter into a partnership with ABS-CBN Corp. for the former to carry the content of the latter.

Will it just be a partnership or will it involve TV5 acquiring the Lopez firm? Abangan!

—Miguel R. Camus

Not a silver bullet

GCash appears to be unbothered by the recent grand rebranding of its close rival Maya (formerly PayMaya), which has recently positioned itself as an all-in-one money app after securing its digital banking license.

“We don’t believe that having a digital banking license is a silver bullet. It’s not like a sign board that you just turn on and you expect everyone to come in,” GCash president and CEO Martha Sazon responded when asked about the Pangilinan-led financial technology platform’s recent move during a recent briefing.

Sazon said that the Ayala-led platform still has the “market dominance” in the last quarter.

For one, she said that they have a consumer base of 60 million, which represents 83 percent of the Philippines’ adult population. Maya, on the other hand, has 47 million subscribers.

Sazon also pointed out that the e-wallet has been seeing better user engagement recently, which she described as the “more important metric” compared to the customer base.

“Based on reputable third-party platform Data.AI, GCash active users are now five times larger than the next e-wallet,” she said.

Maya, on its part, said it was scaling up its digital bank services after recently launching its new brand, which also features e-wallet and cryptocurrency services. Other offerings include bills payment, mobile load purchase and fund transfer.

It obtained the digital banking license from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in September last year.

The rebranding came just a few weeks after Voyager Innovations announced that it secured $210 million in fresh funds to beef up its end-to-end digital financial platform.

—Tyrone Jasper C. Piad INQ

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TAGS: Biz Buzz, Business, Marcos
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