Biz Buzz: CDC shake-up
A management revamp looms at Clark Development Corp. as its president, Felipe Antonio Remollo, may be on the way out, high-placed sources told Biz Buzz.
Remollo has been asked to step down due to disagreements with the Palace on certain property deals in the freeport, particularly a “one-peso-a-year” lease agreement with the provincial government of Pampanga and the 550-hectare property venture being worked out with tycoon Andrew Tan-led Megaworld Corp. without a competitive bidding.
When reached for comment, Remollo said “no comment” when asked whether he has submitted his resignation but explained that the deals under question were all aboveground, beneficial to the government as well as “moot and academic” by now. We didn’t favor anyone,” he said.
On the warehouse leasing deal with Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda, Remollo said this was not really a P1/year concession but has an incremental payment of 10 percent of gross earnings. He added that this was a project started in 2004—or long before he joined CDC—and something he continued as part of the CDC’s corporate social responsibility. The concept was to promote food tourism showcasing the delicacies of each municipality in Pampanga. But because the warehouse was heavily dilapidated and was virtually a fire hazard, Remollo said the vendors sought CDC’s help to improve the building. It could have been a good tourism project but as of last Friday, Remollo said the provincial capitol had decided not to use the warehouse anymore as it found a better location nearer the high-traffic areas.
On the Megaworld transaction, Remollo said this has been addressed by the forthcoming issuance of guidelines on land leases in Clark that will determine how much land each investor can lease for development purposes. The guidelines seek to ensure more transparency in dealings with government, he said.—Doris C. Dumlao
VIPs at SM Arena
Remember that SM Arena on the Mall of Asia grounds that is set to dethrone the Smart Araneta Center as the country’s premier (read: largest) sports and concert venue? Well, Biz Buzz learned that it has another trick up its sleeve.
According to our sources, the new venue will house about 30 or so corporate VIP boxes high above the stands, which will give guests a commanding view of the entire arena.
These rooms—each capable of accommodating 20 or so guests in luxuriously appointed surroundings—will be leased out to corporate entities, which will have exclusive access and use of the facilities for an entire year (renewable, of course).
More importantly, companies that hold the leases to these rooms will have free access to all (yes, all!) events at the SM Arena for the duration of their contracts, whether it’s a UAAP Final’s basketball game or a, say, a concert by U2 (knock on wood, fingers crossed).
Already, there was a mad rush by big-name corporations for these special boxes, with the likes of San Miguel Corp. reportedly asking to lease as many as three corporate VIP rooms for the enjoyment of its guests and friends (SM, for its part, wisely decided to spread the joy around more democratically among various corporate bigwigs instead of allowing the giants to corner as many rooms as they wanted).
How much would it set a company back to lease a VIP box? As much as P12 million a year. (If you had to ask, you probably couldn’t afford it.)—Daxim L. Lucas
The Philippines is all set to head the Asean Federation of Accountants this year, once more giving the country the chance to showcase the brilliance of its local talent pool to the world.
But wait. Who’s representing the Philippines in the international organization? According to our sources, the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants—nominally, the umbrella organization that represents the industry—is standing on shaky legal ground, as far as its corporate life is concerned.
One source tells us that, when Picpa’s corporate life expired in 1997, it filed for an extension, but that this act was never ratified by the members. In particular, our source alleges that the then officers of the group merely made it appear that these requirements were complied with.
“This means Picpa is legally dead,” the source pointed out, asking further why the group’s officers are still acting as if the organization still legally exists and why nothing is being done to rectify this situation.
A complaint letter from one concerned accountant has since been sent to the Professional Regulatory Commission and the Board of Accountancy inquiring about the issue.
The last thing we need is to be represented in an international forum by an organization that—if the accusation is accurate—legally does not exist.—Daxim L. Lucas
Students, speak up!
At a recent education summit held in South Cotabato, Governor Arthur Pingoy said the local open-pit ban is probably not the “real issue” for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ denial of an environment compliance certificate for the $5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project. “We were used as scapegoats,” Pingoy said. “[The repeal of the open pit ban] is not included in the requirements.”
While he did not speculate on what the reason might be, he told students in attendance that the local government was rightly concerned about the effect of open-pit mining, but it may be possible for the environmental ordinance, which banned the method, to be amended—if the Sangguniang Panlalawigan can be convinced of its soundness.
One engineering graduate apparently approached Pingoy and said the method was acceptable. To this, Pingoy said, “Tell me and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan why it is acceptable. You [students] lobby the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. I, as governor, only implement,” he said.
SMI, of course, has poured in P26 million for its educational programs in the provinces of South Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat in 2011 alone.
It has spent about $325 million (excluding VAT) from April 2007 to the end of 2011 on extensive exploration work, complex technical and environmental studies, as well as supporting community development in the project area.—Riza T. Olchondra
The Turks are coming
It’s probably just us, but it seems a lot of Turkish businessmen had filed into Manila these past weeks to establish local partnerships with the help of their industry chamber. Of course, trade missions come and go all the time, and there’s no assurance that anything will come out of such visits.
What seems interesting is that entrepreneurs specifically interested in wheat flour ventures came with the group that arrived in the first half of January.
Then, come late January, another Turkish businessman, who is interested in putting up a flour mill and chicken farm factory in the Philippines, arrived.
As for local flour millers and traders, they did not seem surprised as Turkish flour imports have been steadily increasing over the years. One reaction, in fact, went like this: “Welcome to the club.”
“They will now experience doing business in a country where consumer buying power is very minimal leading to capacity underutilization of 50 percent, where there is no subsidy from government and where product quality is necessary,” one industry leader said.
Here’s something to chew on: Indonesian flour imports (processed from Australian wheat, no less) went from zero in previous years to 20,000 metric tons in 2011. It may not be long before Indonesian flour millers start filing in as well.—Riza T. Olchondra
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