BIZ BUZZ: Third time’s the charm for Davao’s Dennis Uy?
PH Resorts (PHR) Group of Davao-based tycoon Dennis Uy has been sizzling in the stock market in recent weeks due to persistent acquisition rumors. Its newest white knight revealed itself during the Friday holiday and it’s none other than Japan’s Universal Entertainment Group, the operator of the Okada Manila integrated casino along Manila Bay.
Universal said in an overseas filing that Philippine unit Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc. was in talks to acquire a majority stake in PHR’s $300-million Emerald Bay casino project in Cebu and a deal could be finalized by the middle of 2024.
PHR has rallied nearly 90 percent since October and is up about 32 percent since the start of the year—much better than the Philippine benchmark index’s 5-percent decline.
Company share prices continued to rise even after PHR failed to reach a deal with two other parties: Manigsaca-led AppleOne Properties of Cebu and billionaire Enrique Razon Jr.’s casino giant Bloomberry Resorts.
We should know in the coming months whether PHR can close this transaction and get the stalled Emerald Bay completed by its target opening date in 2026.
Meanwhile, aggressive market punters are looking beyond this announcement at other possible scenarios since it’s no secret Universal has been looking to take Okada Manila public whether in the Philippines or aboard.
It’s certainly a positive development for Uy’s business group, which continues to face financial challenges. And while investors might be tempted to jump in once trading resumes, they should consider the recent (shocking?) rally and the fact that a final deal has yet to be signed.
—Miguel R. Camus
AI complements human workforce
Internet service provider Converge ICT Solutions Inc. has announced its plan to build a contact center powered by artificial intelligence (AI) for customer support and management services. It is seen to benefit its over 2 million subscribers.
The AI facility, which is the first of its kind in the country, is targeted to be operational by the second half of next year. It will be equipped with bots answering simple customer requests and a platform generating real-time data analytics.
Despite the use of AI, Converge told the Inquirer that its manpower will be intact.
“There is no foreseen reduction in manpower from the adoption of these tools because these will complement the workforce, not replace them,” the company said.
“This will redound to quicker response time to customer queries, enhance efficiency and accurate problem resolution,” it added. —Tyrone Jasper C. Piad INQ