BIZ BUZZ: Ayala Land divorces SGV
It sounds like an innocuous, almost routine, event. But it’s a big thing in the tightly knit community of auditors in the Philippines.
We’re talking about Wednesday’s announcement by Ayala Land Inc.—arguably the most prestigious property developer in the country—that it is replacing its external auditor after a tight relationship of over three decades.
And it’s not just any external auditor that Ayala Land is replacing. We’re talking about the famed SGV & Co.—formerly SyCip Gorres Velayo & Co.—which is, despite all the challenges they’ve faced in recent years, still the biggest name in the local accounting industry.
But that could change with this announcement.
Ayala Land told the stock exchange that it will be ending its relationship with SGV, which has been in place since 1988, in favor of PwC Isla Lipana & Co., which will now serve as the independent auditor of the firm starting this year.
Ayala Land said the change was recommended by its audit committee, supposedly to align the firm with a 2014 European Union audit rule that requires firms to rotate their auditors regularly, with a maximum prescribed period of 10 years, extendable to 24 years.
Industry insiders are naturally wondering why Ayala Land is even adopting an EU policy that was put in place over a decade ago. Was it just an excuse to justify the change?
All eyes in the industry are now on PLDT, another big SGV account, to see whether the telecommunication giant will announce a similar change in auditors, especially after the bombshell revelation late last year that the firm unearthed at least P48 billion worth of “budget overruns” that the auditor had failed to detect over a period of at least four years.
Will SGV’s clients stay loyal? Or will Ayala’s move precipitate an exodus? Abangan!
—Daxim L. Lucas
Sun Life of Canada isn’t going to wait for any enabling legislation to recognize same-gender partners as beneficiaries of its health maintenance organization (HMO) for employees in the Philippines.
The financial giant announced yesterday that domestic and common-law partners, as well as same-gender partners, could now be enrolled as qualified dependents under its new HMO policy.
“As an equal-opportunity employer, Sun Life strives to provide all employees with top-notch health-care benefits that prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Michelle Cordero-Garcia, chief human resources officer of Sun Life Philippines. “With this enhanced medical package, we hope to foster an inclusive culture that respects and embraces the diversity of our people.”
The company said this move would further foster its ethos of “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” through its recognition of the diverse needs of its employees.
Loving the trees
WawaJVCo Inc., a joint venture of Razon-led Prime Infrastructure Capital Inc. and Violago-led San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders and Developers Group Inc., is contributing to the country’s tree-planting efforts.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and WawaJVCo recently signed a nonbinding accord for the reforestation of a 1,800-hectare area within the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL).
WawaJVCo is the project proponent of the P26-billion Wawa Bulk Water Supply Project in Rizal which, once completed, will supply at least 518 million liters per day of water to Manila Water Co. Inc., which caters to the East Zone concession area.
“This 1,800-hectare reforestation will ensure the sustainability of our water supply, while providing a natural carbon sink program and ultimately, protect our environment and support local communities,” said Prime Infra president and CEO Guillaume Lucci.
This integrates water security, watershed protection as well as forest carbon and biodiversity management in the area. Both parties will design, develop and establish afforestation, reforestation and revegetation programs within the UMRBPL.
Such programs also intend to generate carbon units based on internationally accepted voluntary carbon standards, enabling investments in sustainable social and environmental projects for the communities where WawaJVCo and Prime Infra operate.
Carbon credits are usually created by individuals or projects that destroy or offset greenhouse gases. These credits are usually sold or bought through a cap-and-trade program.
Further, the agreement affirms WawaJVCo’s commitment to exerting best practices in stakeholder consultations with and involvement of the local community and indigenous peoples.
“This MOU for environmental stewardship between government and private sector reflects the commitment of both parties to develop and implement science-based strategies in support of sustainable development,” said Prime Infra chair Enrique Razon Jr.
—Jordeene B. Lagare
Email us at BizBuzz@inquirer.com.ph
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