Biz Buzz: ‘Big Boy’ gets Ortigas board seat
“Deeper and messier” was how some people in the know describe the tug-of-war between Ayala Land Inc. and SM Investments for control of OCLP Holdings, the holding firm of the land-rich but fragmented Ortigas family.
While ALI disclosed Tuesday the approval by its board of a “strategic alliance” with the group of Ignacio Ortigas, our sources claimed the SM group has quietly rallied its own allies earlier on. In a recent board meeting of the Ortigases, they said that a group led by former Ambassador to Mexico Francisco “Paqui” Ortigas III nominated a representative from the SM group. Henry Sy Jr. (aka “Big Boy”) has thus gained a board seat, albeit only as Paqui’s nominee and not yet as a stockholder.
ALI or SM, after all, cannot buy anything out of the 34-percent stake recently unloaded by British banking giant HSBC until the end of a lock-up period. ALI, for its part, has yet to gain board representation but this could change now that the Ayalas have firmed up a deal with Ignacio’s group.
When HSBC sold its 34-percent stake, family members exercised their right of first refusal on a pro rata basis, which means two feuding factions (each led by Ignacio and Paqui) increased their respective stakes without any clear edge over the other. Neither can the parties look to the Roman Catholic Church to break the deadlock as indications showed that unlike in the Reproductive Health Bill debate, the Church seems to have chosen to stay neutral on the Ortigas corporate politics. While the Church has an interest in another Ayala unit, Bank of the Philippine Islands, the pious Sy matriarch Felicidad is also close to the institution and is active in philanthropy.
In the end, it indeed is like another Meralco tug-of-war, except for the different players and the privately held nature of the subject. So who has an edge? We’ll await the conclusion of the Chinoy versus Castilaloy saga.—Doris C. Dumlao
The Metro Rail Transit (MRT) train system’s management quietly implemented a 20-percent discount for students last July, garnering praise from many consumer groups. Legal issues that surround the move, however, may eventually bite former PPP Center head and MRT General Manager Al Vitangcol III in the backside.
For starters, it remains unclear what basis Vitangcol had to order his staff to offer discounts to students. According to our sources, MRT men acted on an office order signed by Vitangcol, which did not cite any existing law as legal support. Under the law, giving discounts to students is mandatory for buses and jeepneys, but no rule exists to cover government-run trains.
Another problem is that MRT passengers may start demanding student discounts from the Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines that run along Taft and Rizal avenues and Aurora Boulevard. Again, granting a student discount, lacking any directive from higher-ups, would be a move that the LRT’s management would have no authority to make.
Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas has been mum on the issue. MRT’s Vitangcol declined to comment on the issue other than saying it was a move to help commuters.
Admirable, yes. Ill-advised, possibly, especially if one considers how an already cash-strapped agency, which depends on P7 billion in subsidies from taxpayers yearly to survive, could offer a 20-percent discount to any segment of its ridership.
Our source also points out that the 20-percent discount for students was supposed to have been used as a “sweetener” to make the government’s planned fare increase for the MRT easier for everyone to swallow. But the MRT’s management jumped the gun and the DoTC just lost its ace.—Paolo Montecillo
No slings attached
Media covering the $7-billion deal signing between Philippine Airlines and Airbus could not help but notice the conspicuous sling on taipan Lucio Tan’s right shoulder. The most common speculation making the rounds is that the Kapitan figured in an accident or had a bad fall.
But according to sources from the Tan camp, Kapitan recently had a minor surgery due to a lingering problem caused by a partially torn ligament in the right shoulder. Under normal circumstances, such surgeries can be done on an outpatient basis, but just to be on the safe side, the taipan’s physicians reportedly advised that he stay in the hospital for a couple of nights.
Now, before the rumor mill starts churning out more speculation on the state of Kapitan’s health (as is often the case with most taipans), the man looks as strong as ever, even briskly walking unaided toward the presidential table during Tuesday’s joint PAL-Airbus event.
And to the delight of Airbus executives, he can still very much sign his name—sans the sling—on documents sealing firm orders for 54 brand-new aircraft, together with PAL president Ramon S. Ang.—Daxim L. Lucas
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