(STAR) By Iris C. Gonzales - Teves The London-based monthly magazine The Banker has named Finance Secretary Margarito Teves as The Best Finance Minister for Asia in 2008, citing his efforts in handling the negative impact of the global crisis on the Philippines.

In its award, the magazine said Teves rose to the challenge of handling the impact of the global economic turmoil on the country.

“It has been a tumultuous 12 months for the majority of the world’s finance ministers, with the impact of the credit crisis affecting almost every country to some extent. Here The Banker salutes those that have risen to the challenges posed by this financial turmoil,” The Banker said.

The Banker said the decision was the outcome of discussions among editors and staff of the magazine, and a survey of views among bankers and economists.

“In particular, survey respondents mentioned that, thanks to progressive improvements in revenue collection, lower public debt levels and more stable finances at the state-owned enterprises, the Philippines has entered the current global credit crunch in a much less vulnerable position than during past financial crises,” Philip Alexander, The Banker’s Finance editor said.

In an article regarding the award, The Banker noted Teves’ efforts to reduce the Philippine economy’s vulnerability to the crisis.

These include deferring the balanced budget goal to have more funds to spend and putting in place measures to boost tax collections and to widen the tax base.

Teves, for his part, said more needs to be done.

“If we have support from Congress, we can rationalize taxes and revenue incentives and use the savings to invest more in infrastructure,” he said.

The Banker is the premier monthly magazine on global finance since 1926, and part of the Financial Times group of publications. The finance minister awards are now in their eighth year.

Teves assumed the Finance post in 2005. Prior to this, he was president and chief executive officer of the Land Bank of the Philippines since September 2000.

He also served as Congressional representative of the 3rd District of Negros Oriental in 1987. He took up Bachelor of Arts at the Universidad Central de Madrid, Spain in 1961. He earned his diploma in Higher Education Diploma in Business Studies in 1965 at the City of London College in England. In 1968, he finished his master’s degree in Development Economics from Williams College, Massachusetts, USA.

San Miguel takes control of Petron By Donnabelle L. Gatdula Updated January 10, 2009 12:00 AM

Ang San Miguel Corp. (SMC), the largest food and beverage company in Southeast Asia, has taken over control of Petron Corp. following a shakeup in the board of the biggest oil firm in the Philippines.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange yesterday, Petron corporate secretary Luis Maglaya said three SMC officials – led by chairman and CEO Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. – and an independent director gained seats in Petron’s 10-man board during a special board meeting Thursday.

Aside from Cojuangco, the other SMC executives include its president and COO Ramon Ang – who was elected as the new chairman of Petron – and SMC counsel Estelito Mendoza.

Ang took the chairmanship from Nicasio Alcantara who, however, remains a director in Petron’s board.

Petron president Eric Recto, meanwhile, will likewise hold on to his post as president.

Completing the new entrants in Petron’s board is independent director Angelico Salud.

Besides Alcantara and Recto, the other holdovers in Petron’s board consist of Bernardino Abes, former Trade Minister Roberto Ongpin, former Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin and Ron Haddock.

Maglaya also disclosed that along with the board overhaul, two new managerial positions in Petron were also created. Emmanuel Eraña will now sit as the company’s chief finance officer and Lubin Nepomuceno as general manager.

According to Petron insiders, there are still no major movements in the rest of management from the vice president level while SMC sources, on the other hand, confirmed there would be a “status quo” in Petron’s rank-and-file.

 Meanwhile, SMC has committed to pay the Ashmore Group $10 million to retain an exclusive option to buy the British investment firm’s 50.1 percent stake in Petron, Ang said.

The new Petron chairman said the $10 million covers the cost of the option agreement, and will be deducted from the cost of acquiring the Petron shares if the deal goes through.

“If you exercise (the option), it ($10 million) forms part of the payment, if you don’t, you lose it,” Ang said in a mobile phone text message to Reuters.

SMC said it has two years from Dec. 24, 2008, to exercise the option to buy the Petron stake.

It had signed the option agreement with SEA Refinery, a wholly-owned subsidiary of London-listed investment manager Ashmore, to buy a unit that owns 50.1 percent of Petron.

Ashmore owns a total of 90.57 percent of Petron after buying the government’s 40 percent interest for around $544 million last month.

SMC, partly owned by Japanese brewer Kirin Holdings, is cash rich after selling major beverage businesses in recent years.

The deal with Ashmore is the third foray for SMC out of its core food and drinks businesses — a move aimed at fuelling growth.

Last month, SMC signed a deal with Qatar Telecom to offer wireless broadband and mobile services in the Philippines.

That followed its purchase of a 27 percent stake in power retailer Manila Electric Co. for about $607 million in late October.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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