COLUMN:  THE  POOREST  OF  7  AT  $270 MILLION

MANILA, June 12, 2005
 (STAR) NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL By Margaret Jao-Grey  -  Did you know 1: An artificial shortage might be behind the P13.50 a kilo current price for palay or unmilled rice. The historical price at this time of the year is between P9 and P10.

* * * Did you know 2: The Singapore visit of Ayala Corp. president and chief executive officer Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II was covered by the Singapore Straits Times.

Basically, the May 27 story bylined by Lorraine Carlos Salazar said JAZA presented to investors a "picture of the country’s economic and political situation (which) have been edged out of the head lines…Good things are happening, pointing to steady progress towards economic health."

* * * Did you know 3: Jollibee Foods Corp. president Tony Tan Caktiong has made it into the Forbes’ latest list of Southeast Asia’s 40 richest men and women.

Fact is, seven Filipinos made it to the list, with Mr. Tan Caktiong as the "poorest" at $270 million and the youngest at 53.

Of the seven, only two are really dollar billionaires. These are Lucio Tan, with assets worth $1.6 billion, and Henry Sy, with $1.4 billion.

Malaysia-based Robert Kuok, who is in his 80s, is the richest man in Southeast Asia with $4.1 billion.

* * * It looks like Asia Meridian Management Corp. president Francisco Colayco is distancing himself from ATR-Kim Eng Capital Partners Inc.

You see, AMMC just returned to ATRKE its 50-percent stake in The Professional Group, a subsidiary of the LBC Group which had been losing money under ATRKE’s management.

AMMC claims a deed of absolute sales executed last November and which transferred the shares of ATRKE in TPG to AMMC was premised on AMMC being able to sell the TPG shares.

Unfortunately, potential buyers could only buy the ATRKE/AMMC shares and not the shares of LBC in TPG, in large part because ATRKE and LBC aren’t exactly in good terms at the moment.

* * * Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who claimed to have trained for the job as head of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., now seems to need more time to learn the ropes.

A case in point is the implementing rules and regulations of the Milk Code, which Mr. Duque’s predecessor, Manuel Dayrit, already vetted before his sudden resignation. Mr. Duque wants a couple of months to further study the IRR before signing it.

Basically, the Milk Code or Executive Order 51 (which was issued in 1986) complies with the 1981 international code of marketing breast milk substitutes (read: formula or powdered milk) adopted by the World Health Organization.

The Philippines is, of course, a signatory of the WHO-initiated code, which, among other things, prohibits the advertising of powdered milk aimed at babies aged zero to one year old. In practice, the Philippines has since allowed the advertising of powdered milk for babies aged six months old and above –something the IRR wants to correct.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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