COLUMN:  EVERYBODY'S  DOING  IT

MANILA
, February 22, 2005
 (STAR) NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL By Margaret Jao-Grey  -  Even the investment banker of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. chairman Manuel Pangilinan has sent him a text on the possibility of an initial public offering for Smart Communications, Inc.

For one, lots of companies like Ayala-controlled Manila Water Co. are doing it. For another, such an IPO would raise enough money to help pay off PLDT’s fixed line debts of $1.9 billion, Smart’s debts of between $300 million and $400 million; and Pilipino Telephone Co.’s debts of $600 million.

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Perhaps Magsaysay Shipping Co. chief executive officer Doris Magsaysay-Ho is unaware that at least one of its two accredited medical clinics is making money from seaman-applicants. Both clinics – Clinica-Med and Asian Hospital – are owned by the same person.

Here’s how it works.

Magsaysay Shipping, which annually deploys about 40,000 seamen to various shipping and cruise lines, pays for the applicant’s medical exam and for the subsequent clearance to work from the accredited clinics.

Now, this is where it gets complicated. In many cases, the clinic would require the applicant to take a second test – this could be a drug test or a blood test – for one reason or another. This retest is no longer shouldered by Magsaysay Shipping but by the applicant.

Worse, the issuance of the medical clearance is oftentimes delayed.

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The talk is that Philippine Airlines majority owner Lucio Tan is ecstatic about the flag carrier’s financial performance leading to the end of the March, 31, 2005 fiscal year.

Okay, so it looks like PAL will end the year in the black, a first time since Mr. Tan took over in the early 1990s. More importantly, it vindicates Mr. Tan’s takeover after the consortium of Antonio Cojuangco, which brokered the purchase of the company from the National Government and which also took a big share of the company, failed to pay its loan to Mr. Tan.

Mr. Tan was immediately called many names by members of the business community and by the academe that his mother thankfully didn’t understand. Basically, they deplored Mr. Tan’s lack of knowledge of the airline industry as well as his decision to make the company more efficient by cutting down on manpower and on management perks – Mr. Tan would flew economy while his managers and their companions flew business class – and by outsourcing non-essential services.

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Once GMA Network, Inc. (Channel 7) begins to provide content for Zoe Broadcasting Network (Channel 11) middle of this year, expect less talk on religion and more talk directed at a specific market niche. Here’s a clue – GMA chairman and chief executive officer Felipe Gozon and Citynet Marketing and Production, Inc. president Gilberto Duavit Jr. are targeting an important member of the family.

Zoe Broadcasting is majority owned by the Jesus Is Lord group headed by 2004 presidential candidate Eduardo Villanueva. A couple of years back, Bro. Eddie signed a similar deal with MSNBC to provide content from its regional head office but things didn’t work.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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