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Biz Buzz: PSE ‘wild card’

/ 12:29 AM April 18, 2012

From the onset, the list of candidates for the upcoming Philippine Stock Exchange elections looked unexciting, with all 15 incumbent directors—eight non-brokers and seven brokers—on the list, and there being only three “challengers.”

The three non-incumbents, all vying for a slot under “other market participants” category, are fund managers Paul Joseph Garcia (Bank of the Philippine Islands) and Marvin Fausto (Banco de Oro) plus Robert Atendido of the Investment House Association of the Philippines. The seat for this category is currently occupied by Edgardo Lacson (Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry).

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Under this year’s rules, the highest in non-broker categories (like “other market participants”) will win the seat but the second-highest can be transferred to the “open” seat where brokers and non-brokers compete freely. This means that if one among Garcia, Fausto and Atendido is popular enough, one of the seven incumbent brokers (except for David Chua who is a sure winner in the “small” brokers category because all the other candidates are “big” brokers) may be dislodged from the roster.

Another category where there’s competition is that of “investor” category, currently occupied by Amor Iliscupidez (San Miguel Corp. Retirement Plan) and Robert Vergara (Government Service Insurance System). This means that if SMC and GSIS were not careful with their voting distribution strategy (because they have to vote for themselves too as shareholders), one of them could lose the seat and between the two, the SMC group has more shares.

Stock market sources say that among the three “challengers,” Garcia is the most popular among the PSE stakeholders. The Odyssey Funds, which Garcia heads, has more than P100 billion worth of assets under management, a significant portion in stocks.—Doris C. Dumlao

Conflict of interest

Where there is a big corporation being accused—justified or not—of damaging the environment, one can expect the Catholic Church to be in the thick of the fray. And so it is in the controversial case of SM’s supposed “cutting” of pine trees in the vicinity of its mall in Baguio City.

In fact, no less than the head of the Baguio diocese, Bishop Carlito Censon, has joined the anti-SM bandwagon after he supposedly ordered a halt to the celebrations of the Holy Eucharist inside the SM mall, in protest of the pine tree “cutting” (in reality, “balling” and not cutting, says management).

But doesn’t this put the Church—itself a huge corporation—in a conflict of interest situation?

According to some Biz Buzz sources who are skeptical of the anti-SM movement, the Catholic Church is, in fact, a direct competitor of the SM mall in Baguio since it owns and operates a rival commercial establishment in the form of the four-story Porta Vaga mall along Session Road.

Located near the Baguio Cathedral, the mall is a natural alternative destination for the Catholic faithful who heed the call of Church leaders to rethink their Sunday Mass and shopping habits.

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So…a ban on Masses within SM Baguio may not only result in more people going to the nearby cathedral, it may also result in more people going to the Church-owned shopping center, too.

Talk about hitting two birds with one stone, huh?—Daxim L. Lucas

Chairman’s favorite

The first of the six themed “villages” of Alphaland Corp.’s uber-upscale members-only island-resort project Balesin in Lamon Bay, Quezon—opened last April 1 in time for the long Lenten break. It was originally intended to finish in end-2013, opening one village at a time, but development was so fast-tracked that the entire development will be finished by July this year.

“We’re ahead of schedule,” says Michelle Ongpin, assistant to (and daughter of) Alphaland chair Roberto V. Ongpin, a.k.a. RVO. Why so? “It’s the favorite project of the chairman,” she says. Her cousin Joanna Ongpin Duarte, director for sales and marketing at Alphaland, adds that RVO found it more economical to finish the six villages all at the same time instead of one at a time. “Plus he hangs out there a lot,” she says.

Balesin is a 409-hectare exclusive resort development subdivided into six villages that take inspiration from the most luxurious beachside destinations across the globe: St. Tropez (Cote d’ Azur in South of France); Phuket (Thailand); Costa Smeralda (Sardinia); Bali (Indonesia), Mykonos (Greece) and Balesin (Philippines).  The “local” village was first to open.—Doris C. Dumlao

Fading Willie magic

To anyone who’s wondering how aspiring politico Willie Revillame’s ratings have recovered since the whole adolescent sexy-dancing scandal last year, the answer is not very well.

Top officials from his network, TV5, admitted that ad revenues on the supposedly reinvented “Wil Time Bigtime” show, which still features the “hep-hep, hooray” game, have yet to come back to their pre Jan-Jan levels. This is sad, really, considering that the show takes up most of the primetime slot for TV5—valuable ad minutes they could be selling with other shows.

But one could argue that keeping “Wil Time” in the early evening slot still makes sense because it is still TV5’s highest-rating program, right? Wrong. Ratings data from Kantar Media showed that for the whole of last week, “Wil Time” never rated higher than 8.1 percent (April 9, Monday). For Wednesday and Thursday, its ratings continued to slump to a score of 7.4 percent.

Before Revillame sets his sights on politics, maybe he should shake things up before he is written off as one of the few bad investments by Manuel V. Pangilinan.—Paolo Montecillo

Magnum makes stock hot

The fact that buyers are having a hard time getting their hands on the oh-so-hot Magnum ice cream confection produced by Unilever-RFM Ice Cream Inc. has investors taking a hard look at the shares of food and beverage firm RFM Corp.

Shares of RFM have long traded at around P1.50 each, but over the past few days have been among the most active and top gainers on the Philippine Stock Exchange, with stocks now trading at P2.20.

If analysts are to be believed, the shares have room for an upside as they are trading at just about 11 times earnings of 2011, compared to Alaska Corp., which was sold at about 20 times earnings.

Expected to provide the boost is the continued increase in the sales of Magnum, which since its launch has been enjoying a demand about five times more than the aggressive number projected for the year. As some analysts say, the joint-venture company with Unilever can even become much bigger than RFM itself in two years.—Tina Arceo-Dumlao

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TAGS: Alphaland, Baguio city, Balesin, Catholic Church, Environmental Issues, Magnum ice cream, Philippine Stock Exchange, PSE elections, Real Estate, rfm corp., SM mall Baguio, stocks, Television, Wil Time Bigtime, Willie Revillame
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