BIZ BUZZ: DyBuncio delivers

BIZ BUZZ: DyBuncio delivers

/ 02:07 AM March 04, 2024

When he took the reins of one the country’s biggest companies in 2017, international banker Frederic DyBuncio was also charged with a challenging set of mandates.

It was during this time the board of SM Investments Corp., led by the second-generation Sy siblings who collectively own the country’s largest personal fortune, picked a nonfamily professional to steer the conglomerate, a dominant force in banks, malls and retail.

As CEO of the company, DyBuncio had to boost the performance SM’s already giant segments while scaling up emerging “portfolio” firms, which today include 2GO Group, Philippine Geothermal Production Co., Goldilocks bakeshop and gaming interests via City of Dreams Manila.


He told the Japanese publication Nikkei in 2017 that one of the expectations of the family was to create growth areas outside the core businesses to drive future growth.


Years later, DyBuncio delivered on that commitment with remarkable success.

In 2023, SM Investments posted not only its highest profit of P77 billion—more than double its earnings in 2017—but also the largest net income reported by a domestic corporation in the country’s history, overcoming inflationary pressures and geopolitical problems.

While its bottom line was lifted by property, retail and all-time high earnings at the banks BDO Unibank and Chinabank, SM’s portfolio companies held their own with a sizeable 9-percent profit contribution, a figure that is forecast to grow in the coming years.

In a rare briefing with reporters last week, DyBuncio chatted excitedly about expansion plans in their noncore renewable energy and data centers, the first of which will rise this year in Batangas province.

But it was clear the sector he was most excited about is their logistics businesses 2GO Group and Airspeed, which aligns with SM’s own strategic push toward provincial areas as Metro Manila becomes saturated.

Apart from his responsibilities at SM, we’re told he opted to be CEO of 2GO, demonstrating his direct involvement segment.


DyBuncio said 2GO recently bought two more roll-on/roll-off vessels, bolstering its capacity to carry both passengers and cargo.

Acquired in 2021 from tycoon Dennis A. Uy, 2GO is expanding all other segments, including e-commerce, last mile deliveries and cold chain services via its massive fleet of refrigerated trucks. The backbone of the entire operation: SM’s retail outlets spanning over 3,000 locations nationwide.

It is evident the SM Group is taking a leadership role in logistics, an area identified by other conglomerates as a viable segment for expansion. DyBuncio is only too happy to accommodate this interest, even suggesting that future financial briefings be held in one of 2GO’s huge vessels docked in the Manila harbor.

“We feel as the economy grows, and this growth happens in the provincial areas, logistics is a key enabler of that growth,” he said. —Miguel R. Camus

Record love for pork

The Philippines put itself on the global map when Filipinos translated their profound love for pork into a Guinness World Records certificate for the most varieties of pork dishes—313!—on display.

The National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. (NFHFI) actually presented 341 pork dishes for Guinness people and industry experts’ consideration. Although 28 of these were disqualified for not meeting the guidelines, they still set a new record.

Will other countries eventually beat this record? Maybe, but it will not be easy.

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“It’s challenging to think of different dishes with pork, even those that have at least a little bit of pork,” NFHFI president Chester Warren Tan said. With no challenger in sight, the local hog industry can afford to savor the record and boast of the variety of mouthwatering dishes the country has to offer. —Jordeene B. Lagare INQ


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