BIZ BUZZ: MB seats going vacant soon?

BIZ BUZZ: MB seats going vacant soon?

/ 02:18 AM May 24, 2024

An “orderly exit” may be waiting for high-ranking officials of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)—among the highest paid in government service—who have been accused of having “ghost employees” on their payroll.

Two beleaguered officials were recently summoned to Malacañang to shed light on the unprecedented scandal that has bought reputational risk to an institution revered for good governance and professionalism, Biz Buzz sources said.

The BSP launched a probe in April immediately after a whistleblower had flagged the presence of four ghost employees at the offices of two members of the Monetary Board (MB), the highest policymaking body of the central bank.


There’s a “good reason to believe that the reports were true,” thereby instigating the probe, said another source privy to the issue.


The investigation is expected to wrap up in “a few more weeks,” the source said, adding that the fate of the two MB members will be in the hands of President Marcos as the appointing authority.

Others theorize that the officials may opt to step down, which means Malacañang may soon have to revisit hundreds of MB nominees who earlier made it to its not-so-short list.

Various reports link MB members Bruce Tolentino and Anita Linda Aquino, both appointees of former President Rodrigo Duterte, to the scandal. The two officials have not responded to our query as of press time.

At this point, the BSP wants to recover a “significant” amount of salaries and bonuses paid to the ghost employees, as well as give the MB members tied to the controversy an “orderly exit.”

To recall, the antigraft court Sandiganbayan in 2022 found former actor Roderick Paulate guilty of hiring ghost employees when he was Quezon City councilor. He was given a jail time of up to 62 years.

READ: QC Councilor Paulate, aide charged over ‘ghost employees’


For its part, the source said it’s still business as usual for the BSP, which is trying its best to avoid the scandal from disrupting policymaking at a time when the volatile peso is giving its officials a headache. —Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral

Phinma seen ‘undervalued’

Businessman Ramon del Rosario Jr. recently struck an P8.3-billion buy-in deal for his education-focused firm, Phinma Education Holdings Inc.

While this is arguably a big investment, compared with the transaction value, the shares of parent company Phinma Corp. are notably undervalued.

READ: KKR buying into Phinma education arm in P8.3-B deal

Antonio Periquet Jr., executive chair at local investment house AB Capital and Investment Corp., which arranged the deal, told Biz Buzz that the transaction valued Phinma Education, post-money, at P24.1 billion, of which Phinma Corp. will own 61 percent.

“This values Phinma’s stake in the company at P14.7 billion,” Periquet explained. This marks a huge gap from Phinma’s current market capitalization of P5.5 billion, he said.

On Thursday, shares of Phinma, which also has interests in real estate, hospitality, and construction, went up by 2.55 percent to P23 each following news of the transaction.

We’re staying tuned to see if this investment—which still requires clearance from the Philippine Competition Commission despite KKR not being an education-related company—will have a halo effect on Phinma’s share price.

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After all, the group also just announced its acquisition of a Mindanao-based cement maker. Is there more coming? —MEG J. ADONIS 

TAGS: Biz Buzz, monetary board

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