BIZ BUZZ: Premature disclosure
The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) keeps a close eye on listed companies that let slip vital market information before first informing regulators and the bourse.
But recently, it was PSE president Ramon Monzon himself who appeared to prematurely share news about a milestone partnership with mobile wallet giant GCash that would pave the way for the entry of millions of new stock market investors.
We are aware GCash is a privately held company of the Ayala Group and Chinese billionaire Jack Ma. The PSE itself is a publicly traded company, but we’re sure no one would complain since the bourse president was making the disclosure.
It seems Monzon was just excited about the landmark project being dubbed “GStocks,” which also involves stockbrokerage house AB Capital Securities Inc. as licensed broker and research data provider.
GCash CEO Martha Sazon could not resist teasing Monzon for first breaking the news, to everyone’s surprise, during a television interview last week.
During the media question and answer portion of their launch event, Sazon joked that Monzon should take the query because he had leaked the details anyway.
Monzon gamely reiterated their target to allow GCash users to directly invest in the stock market as early as November this year.
The term game-changer is an apt description for the venture, especially given its lofty—and some believe impossible—target to grow the present 1.7-million stock market investors by more than five times in five years.
A lot would depend on how they execute GStocks and, we suspect, the eventual reversal of the market from its current downtrend.
It was also a game changer for AB Capital, which would handle transactions from millions of new investors from the 26,000 clients it has today, according to CEO and stock market veteran, Antonio Periquet.
Periquet said that the venture has the chance to close the wealth gap in the Philippines, whose stock market participation rate remains below 1 percent of the population.
“The different between the have and have-nots in society is that the former own financial assets whereas the latter do not,” Periquet said.
He also rejected the belief that stock market participation remains extremely low only because Filipinos lacked the money to invest.
“Poverty only tells part of the story, the other part has to do with access or lack of access. And that is where we all hope this initiative, GStocks, is going to be the game-changer,” Periquet said.
—Miguel R. Camus
Rain, rain, go away
The Philippines has been experiencing gloomy weather these past few weeks as the rain pours down, aggravating the already heavy flow of traffic on the road. And this has been preventing motorcycle taxi operator Move It from achieving its primary goal of expanding its reach.
Move It general manager Wayne Jacinto, on the sidelines of a recent media event in Manila, said they have been doing spot activations across Metro Manila to encourage more riders to register with the app.
But rainy days have been washing away potential drivers, he lamented. After all, who would want to go out if you’ll end up stuck in traffic anyway?
On a normal day, Jacinto said that about 50 to 60 riders would be registered. But if it rained, it was deemed “lucky” if 10 people would come, he added.
This poses a problem because Move It plans to grow the number of its riders to 6,000 following the inking of a deal with Grab Philippines.
Last month, Grab announced its acquisition of the motorcycle taxi platform. This made Move It a subsidiary of Grab that operates independently.
At the time of the announcement, Move It had less than 1,000 riders. Jacinto said this figure had grown to some 2,000 riders in less than two months.
“We are very aggressive in acquiring new drivers,” he said.
“So far, so good,” he said, describing the recruitment campaign. But he believes they can do better to speed up “onboarding,” so they are set to do more spot activations.
Amid elevated fuel prices, the Move It official said they provide their riders with performance-based financial incentives to support them.
—Tyrone Jasper C. Piad
Small LPG cylinders, anyone?
Listed Petron Corp. unveiled this week its 170-gram refillable liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders, responding to the government’s efforts of discouraging the use of illegally-refilled butane canisters.
The refillable cylinder, the latest product under Petron’s Fiesta Gas brand, is available in Cebu through Petron’s network of LPG dealer stores and service stations.
“Our new Fiesta Gas 170-gram in refillable cylinders allows the vast majority of Filipino consumers to get their hands on a quality yet affordable LPG product from a brand they can trust,” said Petron vice president for industrial sales Virgilio Centeno.
The small LPG cylinders are made of seamless aluminum alloy, designed to withstand high pressure in line with Philippine National Standards.
Petron is focusing its efforts on the Visayas as Cebu, in particular, has recorded an “alarming number” of fire incidents due to the backyard or illegal refilling of butane canisters.
The listed firm will eventually cascade its campaign to Mindanao where single-use butane canisters that are illegally refilled with LPG are common.
“As the industry leader, Petron is committed to helping the Department of Energy (DOE) address the proliferation of butane canisters that are illegally refilled with LPG by introducing a better and safer alternative in the market,” added Centeno.
The DOE urged customers against patronizing illegally-refilled butane canisters which are prone to leaks and can trigger accidental combustion, potentially harming users.
“We appeal to the public to stop using illegally refilled butane canisters and prioritize their safety. As we’ve reiterated in the past, these do not comply with the Department of Trade and Industry or Bureau of Fire Protection standards on safety and quality, making them extremely dangerous,” DOE’s Oil Industry Management Bureau Director Rino Abad said.
“We welcome the entry of Petron in the small refillable LPG cylinders category and hope that this will result in more LPG users choosing the safer and government-compliant option,’’ he added.
Republic Act No. 11592, or the LPG Industry Regulation Act, was signed into law last year to regulate the domestic LPG industry.
Aside from instituting reforms in the existing standards of conduct and codes of practice for the sector, the law aims to ensure health, safety, security, environmental and quality standards of LPG products.
“As with any LPG product, safety should always be the main consideration. Small refillable LPG cylinders warrant stringent safety standards, and the only way this can be guaranteed is if a product is legally refilled and purchased from legitimate sellers,” Centeno said.
—Jordeene B. Lagare
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