business

Holcim to help UN Habitat, TESDA in Marawi rebuild project

September 16, 2019

Leading cement maker Holcim Philippines, Inc. will support a project by the United Nations Human Settlement Program (UN Habitat) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to build new homes for 1,500 families displaced by the conflict in Marawi.       Holcim Vice President for Communications Cara Ramirez shared during the 7th Annual Asia-Pacific Housing Forum organized by Habitat for HumanityPhilippines on July 31 that the company is set to fund masonry training for 300 beneficiaries.      UN Habitat will be responsible for recruiting the beneficiaries from among the residents of identified resettlement sites and coordinating logistics for the project. The TESDA, through its Regional Training Center inIliganCity, will administer the masonry course and certify as skilled workers those who pass.      Ramirez said the partnership with UN Habitat and TESDA is in line with the company’s corporate citizenship campaign, Holcim Helps, which tailors capacity-building support based on the needs of beneficiaries so programs are more sustainable and have a lasting positive impact.      “Holcim Helps focuses our efforts on education, livelihood, and infrastructure programs, which are designed in collaboration with our communities so we can identify the programs that are relevant to them and answers their needs,” she added.       Ramirez shared that Holcim Philippines had extended similar support to communities displaced by a natural calamity such as survivors of Typhoon Pablo in Compostella Valley in 2012 or vulnerable to one as the case of people living near the company’s Davao plant.       The support for masonry trainings were implemented through Holcim’s flagship Galing Mason program, which equips beneficiaries with skills that allow them to contribute to the rebuilding of their homes and provides them options for livelihood.       Ramirez shared these as part of her talk on the company’s efforts to contribute to addressing the deficit of quality shelters in the country.       She noted aside from providing quality cement to ensure the durability and quality of shelters being built, Holcim Philippines has also developed new products for specific applications that contribute to improving quality and reducing cost of construction.      “For example, local developers have grown to embrace masonry cement, which is better for finishing applications and more affordable than general purpose cement. While cement only accounts for roughly 10% of building costs, the savings from using the right cement can still help developers manage costs while also delivering quality shelters for their customers,” she said.      A biennial conference organized by Habitat for Humanity Philippines, the Asia-Pacific Housing Forumgathers both public and private stakeholders engaged in finding solutions for inadequate shelter issues and promoting affordable housing as a driver of economic growth. For this year’s forum, the newly formed Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development wasthe content partner.

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AirAsia PHL names new chairman

September 4, 2019

ORGANIZATIONAL changes continue for Philippines AirAsia, Inc. as the budget carrier announced over the weekend the appointment of corporate lawyer Joseph Omar A. Castillo as the new chairman of the board.      “We’re delighted to welcome Atty. Castillo as Chairman of the Board during this period of exciting growth for AirAsia,” AirAsia Group Executive Chairman Datuk Kamarudin said in a statement.      “Atty. Castillo brings a wealth of experience and strategic vision to the airline business, and we are confident that the company will continue to thrive under his leadership,” he added.      Mr. Castillo is replacing Marianne B. Hontiveros who held the post since 2014. Ms. Hontiveros was also chief executive officer and part owner of AirAsia Philippines.      The appointment of Mr. Castillo took effect yesterday. He joined the AirAsia Philippines board of directors earlier this year, and previously worked at private law firm Puyat, Jacinto & Santos (PJS) Law, where he led its transport and business process outsourcing practices and focused on labor relations, contract support, immigration and corporate fraud.      Prior to joining PJS Law, Mr. Castillo was part of Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz (ACCRA) Law Offices and the Baker McKenzie law firm. He was also vice-president for Downstream Operations of the PNOC-Exploration Corp. from 2011 to 2013.      He earned his law degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1997 and his bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the same university in 1993.      AirAsia Philippines also appointed a new chief executive officer, Ricardo “Ricky” P. Isla, replacing Dexter M. Comendador. Mr. Comendador was appointed chief operating officer.      Last June, the carrier likewise announced a change in ownership with the transfer of majority shares to businessman Michael L. Romero’s F&S Holdings, Inc., which now owns 44.4% of AirAsia Philippines.      Ms. Hontiveros and Zest-O Corp. Founder Alfredo M. Yao sold each of their 15.7% shares in the airline to F&S Holdings, leaving the remaining owners Antonio “Tony Boy” Conjuangco with 15.7% shares and Malaysia AirAsia International Ltd. with 39.9%.      AirAsia Philippines posted a profit of P593.07 million in the second quarter, surging 777% from last year due to a growth in passenger volume and ancillary revenues. It is aiming to swing to profit by yearend with a revenue target of P30 billion.      The budget carrier is also planning to launch an initial public offering before the end of the year.

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DoubleDragon on track to have 100 malls by 2021

September 4, 2019

DOUBLEDRAGON Properties Corp. said it is on track to have 100 malls under its portfolio by 2021, as it moves to secure all lots for the projects within the year.      “We’re still on target to have 100 malls by 2021…We have almost secured all lots, hopefully by end of this year, we’ll secure them,” DoubleDragon Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Edgar J. Sia II told reporters after the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Pasay on Friday.      Mr. Sia noted that only the construction of the malls will be completed by then, with operations to start soon after since they may experience delays with tenants.      The listed property developer is set to end the year with 51 malls, from its current network of 39.      “We’ll end this year with 51. So we’ll have to open 12 more. We build the same thing all the time, so it’s faster,” Mr. Sia said.      DoubleDragon’s mall business carries the CityMall brand, which is primarily located in second and third tier cities in the provinces. This aims to meet the demand for malls in provincial areas, while also avoiding competition from more mature players in key cities in the country.      CityMall is 66% owned by DoubleDragon. The remaining 34% is owned by Sy-led SM Investments Corp., which by itself is the country’s largest mall operator with 72 malls in the country and seven in China.      The company is counting on its commercial mall business to help boost recurring revenues by 2021, alongside its three other segments namely office leasing, industrial warehouses, and hotels.      It aims to have 1.2 million square meters (sq.m.)of leasable space across the four segments by 2020, around double its current 603,000 sq.m. This further supports its goal of hitting P10.8 billion in recurring revenues by 2021, after which the company will start declaring cash dividends worth about 30% of their net income to shareholders      This year alone, Mr. Sia said they expect to generate P4 billion in recurring revenues, and is seen to rise to P5.4 billion by 2020.      With more than one million sq.m. of leasable area under its portfolio by next year, the company is also eyeing to place its assets under a real estate investment trust (REIT) once regulators come out with the final rules.      “In the meantime, we’re just building more and maturing out leasable space. If the rules get delayed, the effect of that is we will just be able to raise higher amounts. But as soon as it’s ready, and it looks okay, we will go,” Mr. Sia said.      The company earlier said it wants to raise up to P15 billion from a REIT offering in early 2020, while its entire portfolio could potentially raise up to P59.4 billion      DoubleDragon’s net income attributable to the parent jumped 104% to P1.52 billion in the first half of 2019, after gross revenues surged 54% to P5.59 billion.

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Land Bank to expand banking services in remotest provinces

September 4, 2019

THE Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) will expand the coverage of its banking services by setting up additional satellite centers and deployment of mobile tellers in remotest and depressed provinces nationwide.      In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, LBP First Vice President for Strategic Planning Elcid Pangilinan said the bank has approved in principle the opening of over 250 banking outlets in an effort to strengthen and improve the financial infusion for un-banked areas.      The bank has targeted to complete the project in the next five years aimed at improving the urgent need for financial infusion in areas not being reached by the LBP.      Pangilinan explained the deployment of mobile tellers was in line with bank’s objective of educating people, specifically the farmers and fisherfolk in far-flung provinces, to appreciate the value of the bank.      He noted that majority of those in the farm and fisheries sector have not been exposed or introduced in rightful way of depositing and withdrawing their hard-earned money.      Citing the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas report, Pangilinan said there are about 533 unbanked provinces and municipalities and "it is our aim to reach out to these places and serve the people."      Of the approved over 250 places deprived of the banking services, the LBP branches will be set up in the northern part of Luzon, Visayas in its eastern part, and in western part of Mindanao.      While he did not divulge the amount which the bank will infuse in the two projects, Pangilinan assured that it has sufficient money to carry out its commitment, noting that LBP has been named as top four in terms of assets and deposits.      Pangilinan was one of the official representatives to the two-day meet on Reducing Disaster Risks Towards a Resilient Agricultural Sector hosted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Studies (SEARCA) here from Aug. 29 to 30, 2019. (Lulu R. Principe/PNA)

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Globe myBusiness expands reach, inks agreements with LuzViMin Business Partners

August 30, 2019

Globe myBusiness, the micro, small, and medium-size enterprise arm of Globe, expands its reach in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao as it signs separate partnership deals with 17 telecom resellers.      The retailers will now serve as accredited partners of Globe myBusiness and will act as the brand’s representative in various areas in the country where the Globe Store is not present. They will carry the different business solutions being offered by Globe myBusiness to MSMEs.      “We would like to celebrate our partnership with these resellers which we believe is key in further reaching out to MSMEs.  Together, we can accomplish great things and help our customers through their digital transformation,” said Cleo Santos, Globe myBusiness Sales Head.      For Luzon, Globe myBusiness partners are  Activ8 Enterprises, Noah Genesis, McBlues Marketing, Systemplus Computer Center, The First Plaza @ Daanghari, Oleron Computer Solutions Center and Ecotech Business Solutions, Inc.  Visayas is represented by  Alphard Marketing Services, 2kg Cable Services,  MVM Online Business Center, DCV Industrial Control Enterprises, G7 Documentation Services and Jab 8 Distribution Inc. while Mindanao partners include Permaheal, Abjanine Business Center Company, Dianne and Tweety Beverages Enterprises, Gwils Dry Goods Store.

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Diokno vows another rate slash for 2019

August 30, 2019

BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said yesterday there will be another 25 basis points (bps) cut in the benchmark policy rates by the end of the year, completing a 75 bps interest rates reduction for 2019.      Diokno said he could not say as yet which would come first, the policy rate cut or the reduction in banks’ reserve requirement ratio (RRR). He reiterated that both actions are “live issues” and could come at any time.      “There’s another 25 bps (before the end of the year),” Diokno told a forum organized by the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines on Tuesday. He cited the global monetary easing actions and continued benign inflation as factors for the impending cut.      Diokno said they will again reduce the RRR this year, on top of the 200 bps RRR cut they implemented in tranches in May, June and July. He however said that it may not be as much as another 200 bps cut, equivalent to P190 billion in fresh liquidity.      “We have another RRR cut this year but maybe not 200 bps (it could be) 150 bps,” said Diokno. When asked if like before, the policy cut will happen prior the RRR cut, he said – “we don’t know yet (because) it’s a live issue. It could be before the late September (Monetary Board) policy meeting. It could be after … we will just look at the data.”      The Monetary Board’s next monetary policy meeting is September 26. It will have two more after, on November 26 and December 12, for a total of eight policy meetings for 2019.      “As we are all aware, the specter of slowing global economic growth looms larger than ever on the horizon as protectionist policies and geopolitical tensions continue to dominate the global growth narrative,” Diokno told forum participants. “Greater global economic uncertainty may lead to higher risk aversion as international investors turn to safe-haven assets, resulting in volatility in our domestic financial markets. When this happens, this could have adverse consequences on our price and financial stability objectives, and ultimately on the country’s growth momentum.”      Since global growth risks may “further escalate” because of the US-China trade conflict, Diokno said that in response, “central banks around the world, including the Philippines, have responded by easing their respective policy rates to stimulate their domestic economies. In fact, some central banks have surprised the markets by reducing their rates by more than what was expected. This indicates that the global monetary policy easing cycle could gather momentum and last longer and deeper than previously anticipated.”      The BSP policy rate was reduced by 25 bps last May 9 and by another 25 bps last August 8 for a total of 50 bps. During its last policy meeting, the BSP further slashed its inflation forecast for 2019 to 2.6 percent from 2.7 percent, while the 2020 and 2021 estimate was 2.9 percent, still within the two-four percent government inflation target.      Diokno has said that third quarter inflation average will drop below two percent due to base effects. He is also hoping that the last quarter’s inflation average could be “much lower” than what their flow charts show because of lower global oil prices      Inflation rate averaged at 3.8 percent in the first quarter 2019 before falling to three percent in the second quarter. With the latest July inflation of 2.4 percent, the year-to-date inflation averaged at 3.3 percent.      Diokno said the decision to reduce interest rates last May 9 came from its assessment that price pressures have continued to ease and that inflation expectations have also moderated further.      The main factors that contributed to the BSP’s benign inflation outlook and the revision of the forecasts came from the continuing relaxation of food price pressures.      Last year, the BSP raised interest rates by 175 bps to curb high inflation at the time, because of higher oil and rice prices. Inflation peaked at 6.7 percent in September and October.

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