Biz Buzz: Delayed takeoff

/ 03:01 AM April 09, 2012

San Miguel Corp.’s entry as tycoon Lucio Tan’s partner in Philippine Airlines nearly hit a snag Tuesday last week as the “frenemy”—backed by some family members and senior advisers—presented an offer that was hard to refuse. The alternative bid was to the tune of $800 million, according to the reliable grapevine, although it was not clear whether this was an improvement over the frenemy’s $700-million offer for a controlling stake or an attempt to top SMC’s quest to buy 49 percent of PAL (plus affiliate budget carrier Air Philippines).

All was set for a deal signing in the afternoon of April 3 but because of the last-minute juicy offer, the Tan family did pause to rethink and the signing ceremonies in Century Park Hotel were called off. One senior adviser was said to be really adamant to get SMC out of the picture because a hefty brokering commission was allegedly at stake. Thus, no signing occurred in the afternoon, leading some people to believe that the Kapitan needed more time to think about letting the group of SMC chief Ramon S. Ang on board the national flag carrier.


In the end, however, Kapitan and brother Harry Tan decided to honor an exclusivity agreement with SMC and the rest is history. The deal-signing did occur in the evening, when there were no more media around to hound the parties. This race to the skies is thus officially concluded.—Doris C. Dumlao

Other April deals


While SMC has acquired a foothold in the airline business, it may finally be able to wrap a deal to sell a controlling stake in Bank of Commerce to a Malaysian banking giant within the next few weeks. CIMB has been aggressively shopping for acquisitions elsewhere in the region (recently reported to be in talks to buy Royal Bank of Scotland’s banking units in Asia Pacific) and our sources said a deal may finally be firmed up within this month.

Another deal to watch out for is the entry of Japanese trading giant Marubeni into water concessionaire Maynilad Water Services. Metro Pacific Investments and DMCI Holdings have already confirmed that they would sell 12 percent and 8 percent, respectively, to allow Marubeni to get a 20-percent interest that, in turn, would pave the way for the infusion of new money (via cheap Japanese financing) and technology into the water concessionaire. Marubeni will buy a mix of primary and secondary shares, which will dilute everyone but keep Metro Pacific with majority control of Maynilad.—Doris C. Dumlao

AIM import

Coming off a relatively volatile period in its nearly half a century of existence—and having some difficulty finding the appropriate candidate locally—the Asian Institute of Management recently chose to go foreign.

The board of the Makati-based (but internationally renowned) business school recently appointed a foreigner to be its new president.

Effective August 2012, Steven DeKrey, currently senior associate dean of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School, will become AIM’s new chief, replacing former Education Secretary Edilberto de Jesus whose term is ending.

According to AIM chair Napoleon Nazareno (yes, the PLDT president), DeKrey’s appointment “is a result of and extensive worldwide search conducted by the AIM board.”


Sources within the school said that DeKrey’s appointment was expected to give the institution new impetus in its effort to keep up with the increasingly competitive business education industry, given that other major universities around the region have pulled away in recent years, as evidenced by their higher enrollment numbers (and bigger marketing budgets).

Apparently, DeKrey will not be the first foreigner to serve as AIM president in its 45-year history as two other Harvard Business School professors served as the institution’s presidents during its early years.

Will this bold move work in uniting the sometimes fractured AIM organization? Time will tell.—Daxim L. Lucas

Crisis management

Remember that mini-crisis of confidence that PSBank had to go through after Chief Justice Renato Corona’s bank records were brought out into the open? Well, the bank really went all out in trying to contain the fallout, it seems.

Apart from PSBank president Pascual Garcia III deciding to put up a personal blog (where he related his own views of the events), the bank also tried to address clients’ queries at the ground level. One way was to put up small posters at every teller’s counter, quoting Sen. Jinggoy Estrada expressing doubts that the chief justice’s bank accounts were leaked by PSBank.

Garcia said the signs were also put up in response to CJ Corona’s statement expressing his disappointment over the leaking of his bank records. In any case, the communications effort seems to have worked in preventing a bigger crisis within the bank. The problem is … it seems bank regulators, especially the guys at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, aren’t too happy with how the bank wiggled its way out of that one. Let’s see how this plays out.—Daxim L. Lucas

Foreign eyes, local (sensitive) data

Cloud computing is all the rage nowadays, especially with IT firms offering more reliable outsourced “hosting” services for one’s data at increasingly cheaper rates. Clearly, the concept of having business data stored outside of their office premises presents advantages of space, operations and cost efficiency for most.

However, one main disadvantage that is rather alarming is the fact that nobody aside from the host knows where such data are stored and located, especially if we’re talking about sensitive data owned by the government. If the servers that these data reside in are in a foreign country, what laws and policies may exist that will compromise such information?

Recently, the Department of Budget Management (DBM) issued a bid and awarded the hosting of its e-mail system to an offshore foreign-hosted e-mail system. With the data of the DBM likely to be stored in a location outside of the country, the Lower House’s ICT vice chair, Rep. Teddy Casiño, raised an issue about having a government agency store e-mail data located elsewhere instead of within the Philippines. To this day, the matter has yet to be satisfactorily addressed by the DBM and Congress has yet to present any direction or proposed policy regarding Philippine government data being stored beyond its jurisdiction.

Apparently, there are also other government agencies that are opening up their e-mail systems for bidding as well. While our lawmakers have yet to firm up the data privacy policies, keeping sensitive government data away from prying foreign eyes may be unwise. Maybe keeping the information closer to home, within our jurisdiction, is the more intelligent thing to do for now.—Daxim L. Lucas

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TAGS: Air Transport, Airline, Asian Institute of Management, cloud computing, Corona impeachment, Education, Government, Philippine Airlines, PSBank, technology
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