business

AboitizPower posts P8.6-billion first half net income

August 2, 2019

Aboitiz Power Corporation (AboitizPower) reported a net income of P8.6 billion for the first half of 2019, 5% lower than the P9.1 billion recorded last year. Without one-off gains, the company’s core net income was P8.5 billion, 19% lower than the P10.5 billion recorded in the same period last year, which was largely the result of the higher volume and cost of purchased power during the first half of 2019.      Spot market prices were exceptionally high during the first half of 2019, and the company purchased replacement power due to outages and contracting ahead in preparation for incoming capacity. “The first half of 2019 was challenging for AboitizPower as Luzon faced supply issues leading to the elections. Nevertheless, we remained committed to serving our customers to the extent of providing them with replacement power that we bought from the spot market at rates higher than our contract prices,” Emmanuel V. Rubio, AboitizPower Chief Operating Officer, said. Results of Operations Generation and Retail Electricity Supply      AboitizPower’s generation and retail electricity supply business recorded consolidated earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of P17.8 billion in the first half of 2019, 12% lower than the P20.2 billion recorded during the same period last year. Capacity sold for the first half of 2019 decreased by 6%, from 3,213 megawatts (MW) in 2018 to 3,035 MW in 2019, due to Therma Mobile, Inc.’s bunker C-fired diesel power plants being put on preservation mode in the first quarter of 2019.      “With supply stabilizing and with our new capacity coming in, we are positive about exceeding our 2020 target of 4,000 MW attributable capacity, which will allow for a steady and sustainable long-term growth momentum,” Rubio noted. Distribution      AboitizPower’s distribution business recorded a consolidated EBITDA of P3.7 billion, 5% lower than the P3.9 billion last year due to lost margins from the decommissioning of the Bajada power plant. Energy sales rose to 2,842 gigawatt-hours (GWh), a 5% increase from the 2,719 GWh recorded in the first half of 2018, primarily driven by the increase in new customers across all segments. About AboitizPower      AboitizPower is the holding company for the Aboitiz Group’s investments in power generation, distribution, and retail electricity services. It advances business and communities by providing reliable and ample power supply at a reasonable and competitive price, and with the least adverse effects on the environment and host communities.      The company is one of the largest power producers in the Philippines with a balanced portfolio of assets located across the country. It is a major producer of Cleanergy, its brand for clean and renewable energy with several hydroelectric, geothermal and solar power generation facilities. It also has thermal power plants in its generation portfolio to support the baseload and peak energy demands of the country.      The company also owns distribution utilities that operate in high-growth areas in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, including the second and third largest private utilities in the country.

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LANDBANK to boost lending to agriculture

August 2, 2019

LAND BANK of the Philippines (LANDBANK) said Mindanao will receive the biggest chunk of the bank’s loans, with the region having the biggest agricultural area in the country.      “Since Mindanao is the biggest agricultural area, then of course Mindanao will continue to get a very large of our loans to agri,” LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo told reporters at the sidelines of a central bank event on Friday.      Ms. Borromeo said the bank is looking to increase its loan to the agriculture sector by 20% by 2020 through “intensified efforts.”      “Historically, our agri loan portfolio has been growing by more than 15% year-on-year. Probably with the intensified efforts we might reach 20% growth. Not this year (but) probably in 2020,” she added.      In his State of the Nation Address last month, President Rodrigo R. Duterte threatened to abolish the LANDBANK for supposedly neglecting its mandate to finance agricultural projects and endeavors, criticizing the bank for being “mired with so many commercial transactions.”      However, the bank earlier said it is the only bank compliant with the Agri-Agra Law. Republic Act 10000 or the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act mandates banks to allot at least 10% of their total loanable funds to agrarian reform beneficiaries and 15% for farmers and fisherfolk.      Data provided to reporters showed LANDBANK’s exposure to the agriculture and fisheries sectors amounted to P177.32 billion as of end-June, 22.17% of the lender’s total loan portfolio of P799.64 billion — 16.8% higher than P151.78 billion recorded as of June 2018.      This is on top of the P42.31 billion lent to the “mandated” sector, which includes small farmers including agrarian reform beneficiaries and their associations (P42.17 billion) as well as small fishers and their associations (P140 million).      Meanwhile, Ms. Borromeo said the bank is encouraging small farmers to join cooperatives and associations as it looks to “intensify” its lending to the agricultural sector.      “We are the biggest lender to the agriculture [sector] already. So we just need to reach out to more small farmers and their cooperatives, which is what we’ve been trying to do year after year. We just need to intensify it some more,” she added.

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In Pursuit of Driving Pleasure – All-new Toyota GR Supra

August 2, 2019

The All-New Toyota GR Supra, otherwise known as the A90 or Mk. V, is the first-ever Toyota Supra to be retailed in the Philippines. Following a 17-year hiatus, the legendary Supra makes a comeback and takes the motoring world by storm upon its international debut in Detroit, USA. Now on its fifth generation, the new Supra is the first global Toyota Gazoo Racing model, with all units being manufactured at the Magna Steyr plant in Graz, Austria. Toyota Gazoo Racing, or GR, is Toyota’s performance development arm which aims to produce ever-better cars through motorsports. The GR Supra is the culmination of Toyota’s racing expertise.      The Philippine variant of the All-New Toyota GR Supra is powered by a twin-scroll turbocharged, in-line six-cylinder engine that produces a maximum output of 335 hp and 500 Nm of torque. A flagship sports car through and through, the GR Supra is a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe that comes exclusively in 3.0L displacement and 8-speed automatic transmission.      Both chassis and body frame are masterfully crafted to enjoy a 50:50 front-rear weight distribution, crucial in achieving optimum cornering performance. In addition is a wheelbase-to-tread ratio of 1.55*1—one of the smallest among mass production sports cars—contributing to its excellent turning and responsiveness.      The All-New Toyota GR Supra is also armed with Adaptive Variable Suspension. Its front wheels are equipped with double-joint type MacPherson Strut, while the rear wheels come with Multi-Link suspension. The Supra features a Limited Slip Differential and ventilated disc brakes. Its high body rigidity, low center of gravity, and aerodynamics all combine to give the driver ultimate driving speed and precision.      Set as low and wide as possible, the All-New Toyota GR Supra has an athletic stance that evokes a dynamic look referred to by Toyota engineers as the “Condensed Extreme”.      Its prominent grille is flanked by large air intakes on both sides, whose character lines meld seamlessly down the flared spoilers and trapezoidal bumper with dual exhaust pipes plus diffuser. The silhouette profile is perfectly accentuated by 19-inch forged aluminum wheels, with custom-made tires by Michelin.      The All-New Toyota GR Supra has a distinct illumination setup: the front features six-lens LED headlamps that integrate daytime running lights and turn signals, while the rear lamps combine turn, tail, and stop into one stylish main ring. The dot-type LED backup lamps are located in the center of the lower bumper. A Follow-Me-Home lighting feature is also present.      The interior of the Philippine variant comes purely in black, with muted carbon accents for an understated luxury feel. The Alcantara sports seats are equipped with lumbar support and 8-way power memory adjust, and the 3-spoke leather steering wheel has both manual tilt and telescopic adjust for optimum ergonomics.      Aimed at millimeter driving precision, the All-New Toyota GR Supra has a narrow-sectioned dashboard that offers expansive forward visibility. The vehicle intuitively assists its driver in focusing on the road through an advanced Heads Up Display (HUD) plus responsive Paddle Shifters, complemented by 8.8-inch TFT-LCD Multi Information Display gauge.      Keep the cabin comfortable through a dual-zone, push-type air conditioning and stay entertained with an 8.8-inch TFT LCD touchscreen display with Bluetooth and USB connectivity that synergizes with its 12-speaker, High-Fidelity surround sound system powered by JBL.      In Toyota, safety is always a priority especially for its high-speed performance models. The All-New Toyota GR Supra has seven (7) SRS airbags, 3-point Pre-tensioner and Force Limiter seatbelts, as well as Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control, and an Anti-Lock Brake System.      The All-New Toyota GR Supra 3.0L Philippine variant starts at PHP 4,990,000. It comes in eight (8) striking colors: Prominence Red, Lightning Yellow, Deep Blue Metallic, White Metallic, Silver Metallic, Ice Gray Metallic, Black Metallic, and Matte Storm Gray.

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Very big’ improvement in telco services by 2020: Rio

July 31, 2019

DEPARTMENT of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. on Tuesday said Filipinos will feel a big improvement in telecommunications (telco) services nationwide come 2020.      “Our program for 2020 is that before the end of next year, our people will feel a very big improvement in our telecommunications services nationwide,” Rio said during ‘The Presser’ of the Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) attended by key clusters of the executive branch at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) building in Quezon City.      The DICT official said the improvements in telco services will stem from a high-speed internet infrastructure to be built in partnership with Facebook and Dito Telecommunity Corporation (Dito), the country's third major telco player.      “The most significant statement of the President during his SONA yesterday was that the selection process for the third telco, there is no corruption that was involved. And he was so serious in this statement, he even swore over the tomb of his father. The first time the President did that in a SONA,” Rio said.      Aside from faster internet services at home, the high-speed internet infrastructure project with Facebook will help provide Filipinos with better free Wi-Fi in public places and better e-government services.      “We will have then a very big bandwidth to be coming from Facebook. Two terabits per second that we can now use for free Wi-Fi and for our e-government to give basic services, online services, to our people even in the remotest area of our country,” Rio said.      “This is actually a program that is instructed by the President on the DICT,” he added.      On November 15, 2017, officials of from the DICT, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and EDGE (Facebook) signed a landing party agreement for a high-speed internet infrastructure project called the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure that would produce an “ultra-high-speed information highway” connection in the country.      On July 8, 2019, Mislatel Consortium, now Dito Telecommunity, was awarded a permit to operate as the Philippines’ third telco provider by President Duterte in a ceremony at the Malacañang Palace. (PNA)

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SSS digitizing processes, services

July 31, 2019

STATE-RUN Social Security System (SSS) said it is in the process of digitizing its processes to improve transactions after President Rodrigo R. Duterte in his State of the Nation Address included the pension fund in agencies that need improvement.      In a press release on Thursday, SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Aurora C. Ignacio said the pension fund has started acquiring new digital infrastructure “to fast track the full transition of SSS core and business processes to digitalization.”      “As mandated by our Social Security Commission ex-officio Chairperson Carlos G. Dominguez in his first order of business when he took office last March, he instructed to speed up the transition to the digitalization process. This is one of his priority policies under the new charter of the pension fund,” Ms. Ignacio said.      Mr. Duterte, in his SONA last Monday, said the SSS and the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Land Registration Authority (LRA) and the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG need to improve their services.      Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez said in a briefing on Tuesday that the slow service of SSS is “costing the public money” and ordered the agency to develop a system using technology instead.      “I told them (SSS), you know the way you’re doing your business, our estimate is it cost you seven pesos to deliver P100. Now, that is too expensive. Other countries…if I remember right…Japan, 50 centavos to deliver a hundred pesos worth of benefits. We [in the Philippines] cost seven pesos. I said you cannot continue like that. That is not government money, that is the money of the people,” Mr. Dominguez said.      “So if it cost me seven bucks to deliver you a hundred…that means to say that seven bucks less I can give to somebody else… Your inefficiency is costing the public money, directly. So I said the first thing you do, you digitize, you do it, you develop a system that you can communicate with your clientele through modern technology, use the cellphone, you know, the smart app,” he added.      “Other countries can do it, why can’t we? You do it through computer and then we can…actually expand the benefits and make it easier for them to get the benefits,” Mr. Dominguez said.      At present, SSS’ online services include online applications for social security number issuance, payment reference number inquiry and generation, employment report submission, submission of contribution and loan collection lists, salary loan applications, certification of salary loan applications and filing for maternity and sickness notification.      Other electronic channels of SSS are My.SSS, SSS Mobile App, Self-Service Express Terminal, Interactive Voice Response System and Text-SSS.      The pension fund said in the same statement that out of 6,609 SSS-related concerns referred by 8888 and the government’s Contact Center ng Bayan, it resolved 99.55% or 6,554 cases.

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DOF studying impact of gaming ban on UHC funds

July 31, 2019

THE Finance Department is studying President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s directive for the closure of all Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO)-regulated gaming activities vis-à-vis its impact on financing the Universal Health Care (UHC) program.      “We are evaluating the immediate effects of the ban,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a message to journalists Saturday.      Dominguez explained that they are “re-checking” how much the share of PCSO is on the over-all financing of UHC.      He also has no idea until when the ban would be in place.      The ban on all PCSO-regulated gaming activities was announced by the President in a televised message Friday night.      He attributed his decision to ban gambling activities such as lotto, small time lotto (STL), and "Peryahan ng Bayan" to “massive corruption”.      He said his directive is based on “the preservation of the resources of the nation”.      Earlier, health officials said about P257 billion is needed in the first year of implementation of UHC, which will be funded primarily by revenues from sin taxes. (PNA)

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