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Biz Buzz: New FAs at PAL

/ 01:32 AM August 15, 2012

After an aggressive information campaign to announce its new recruitment drive, Philippine Airlines human resources officials were swamped last weekend by applicants who wanted to join the ranks of the flag carrier’s cabin crew team.

Held last Saturday and Sunday at the Manila Diamond Hotel (owned by no less than PAL president and San Miguel’s head honcho Ramon Ang), almost 2,000 would-be flight attendants showed up in their best corporate looks. The bulk of applicants showed up last Saturday, creating a long, snaking queue that extended from the hotel’s ballroom up to the lobby. The scene was described by one observer as being similar to an American Idol audition.

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Needless to say, the selection process was rigorous (good looks alone won’t cut it, we’re told, although being attractive would understandably give an edge). A little less than 5 percent of applicants were being accepted outright and a big number put on “conditional acceptance” status (similar to a waiting list).

Airline officials are expecting a similar number of applicants—or more—to show up at their recruitment drives in Visayas and Mindanao in the coming weeks.

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Incidentally, PAL is also hiring new pilots (both captains and first officers) for both its wide- and narrow-bodied aircraft in anticipation of its soon-to-be-announced refleeting program. Interesting times ahead.—Daxim L. Lucas

Speaking of which…

Driving a wedge between partners and allies seems to be the preferred line of attack of one particular business group.

The latest target of this group is the partnership between San Miguel’s Ramon Ang and tobacco and beer magnate Lucio Tan.

If their line is to be believed, the two businessmen were supposedly at loggerheads over how to treat the “commissions” that aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus pay in order to encourage airlines to buy planes from them. Supposedly, while Tan wanted the commissions to be paid to PAL, Ang wanted to plough the money back to the aircraft manufacturers to, in effect, secure a cheaper price for the planes. If this line being spread is to be believed, the budding partnership between Tan and Ang is on the verge of unraveling because of this disagreement.

The truth? No such thing, we’re told. Intrigues of a similar nature were being sowed against Tan’s heir apparent, Michael, in an apparent attempt to drive a wedge between the Tanduay Holdings president and his brother Lucio Tan Jr. In this case, the people behind the campaign were said to be those who “placed the wrong bets” on the succession issue.—Daxim L. Lucas

‘Habagat’ at SM

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The recent flooding in Metro Manila submerged two of the SM group’s grocery store outlets —the SaveMore store along Araneta Avenue and the supermarket at the basement of SM Sta. Mesa. SaveMore Araneta lost about P25 million worth of inventory but quickly managed to clean up and reopen on Tuesday.

On the other hand, it may take 45 more days for the SM Sta. Mesa supermarket to reopen and the cost of ruined inventory has yet to be determined. But the SM group has comprehensive insurance protection, including the “Acts of God” provision to draw from in rebuilding the flooded stores.

Unlike Ondoy’s wrath in 2009 (which also affected SM Rosales and SM Marikina malls), this time only one SM Prime department store, SM Sta. Mesa, was affected by the flooding (although this time, the flood at the basement where the grocery store is located did not reach the ceiling). As such, the damage was estimated at “less than half” of the Ondoy cost as previously, even the wirings and lighting systems at the basement were affected. And since this is the second time that SM Sta. Mesa has been affected by severe flooding, the group will undertake “structural intervention” to seal outside access to the basement. The supermarket may have to be relocated to another area.—Doris C. Dumlao

‘Bayanihan’ spirit

The recent calamity has again highlighted corporate social responsibility efforts in the country. Citibank and East West Bank, for instance, have announced a 30-day credit card payment holiday for credit card holders affected by the recent flooding. In the case of Citibank, the grace period also applies to personal loan borrowers of Citibank Savings. Both banks showed similar kindness during the “Ondoy” calamity in 2009.

Meanwhile, SM Foundation executive director Connie Angeles joined Tuesday’s briefing on SM Investments’ first-semester results to report on how the group has doubled relief efforts from the recent calamity. She said SM Foundation has distributed relief goods in a span of four days to 44,200 families “and still counting,” cooperating with the local government units to help affected communities in Marikina, Taytay (Rizal), Valenzuela, Novaliches and Quezon City. About 12,600 individuals have been served by the foundation’s medical missions, she said.

State-owned pension funds Social Security System and Government Service Insurance System have likewise provided calamity relief package for members.—Doris C. Dumlao

A more accurate benchmark

Have you ever wondered why there’s such a wide disparity between the interest rates paid by the government on its treasury bills and common borrowers who take out bank loans (aside from the obvious explanation of the latter having the higher credit risk, of course)?

Well, the Bankers Association of the Philippines wants to do something about it.

According to our source, the BAP is now in the process of creating a new pricing benchmark that will—if plans push through—provide bankers and borrowers with a more accurate picture of the true costs of borrowing on any given day.

Among others, the new pricing benchmark (to be arrived at based on daily quotes provided by BAP member-banks) will help address misconceptions that banks are making a killing on loans by charging “high” interest rates while government benchmarks stand at historic lows.

“Simply put, T-bills and T-bonds are no longer that reliable as benchmarks because of the extreme liquidity we’re facing now. We need more accurate bases for pricing,” said one banker involved in the scheme called the Overnight Index Swap model.

It has, in fact, received an approval in principle from the Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas. But it remains to be seen how the people at the Bureau of the Treasury will receive the idea of its bills and bonds being supplanted as the financial system’s main loan-pricing basis.—Daxim L. Lucas

Bad business, not bad Customs

Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon was bothered enough by a recent Biz Buzz item that reported that Haagen Dazs was pulling out of the Philippines because its officials were dismayed by the level of corruption at the Bureau of Customs.

As the story went, the officials of the premium ice cream maker decided that it was no longer worth their time and money to be faced with regular shakedowns from Customs officials who made it difficult for them to import their much-loved ice cream products.

Well, Biazon—who presumably loves his ice cream as much as we do—took the initiative and contacted the local distributors of Haagen Dazs to get the real story behind their pullout. They wrote him back saying that, contrary to reports, the ice cream maker’s local distributor, General Mills, was not encountering problems with Customs officials, but had instead decided to stop doing business here because the market conditions were “challenging.”

So there. No trouble at Customs. For Haagen Dazs, at least.—Daxim L. Lucas

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TAGS: Air Transport, Airline, Bankers Association of the Philippines, Citibank, credit card payment, East West Bank, flight attendants, floods, graft and corruption, Häagen-Dazs, ice cream, jobs, Lucio Tan, Philippine Airlines, Ramon Ang, Retail, SM
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