Tetangco MANILA, Philippines]

MANILA, JULY 1, 2009 (STAR)  By Des Ferriols - Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said the peso is not performing exceptionally worse than its regional peers and has actually begun to perform better at the end of the first semester.

Tetangco rarely reacts to movements in the foreign exchange rates but he took exceptions to reports that the peso was the worst-performing currency in Asia in the first quarter.

“The Philippine peso has been moving in tandem with the movements of most currencies in Asia,” Tetangco pointed out. “With the continuing risk aversion in the external markets, the peso has weakened by 1.6 percent on a year-to-date basis as of 29 June 2009.”

But Tetangco was quick to point out that the currency is actually performing better than some Asian currencies.

Tetangco cited data indicating that other currencies in the region have also depreciated against the dollar this year such as the Singapore dollar (1.8 percent), Malaysian ringgit (1.9 percent), South Korean won (two percent), and Japanese yen (5.1 percent).

Meanwhile, Tetangco admitted that the country’s two closest competitors have seen their currencies appreciate such as the Indonesian rupiah, the Thai baht and the Indian rupee which have strengthened from their levels at the start of the year.

“But the peso’s current value as well as its average value year-to-date remain within the DBCC’s assumed range of 46-49 per dollar for the year 2009,” Tetangco pointed out.

Tetangco said the BSP had no intentions of intervening in the peso-dollar exchange rate except to reduce volatility in either direction.

“The BSP will continue to monitor closely the evolving developments in monetary and foreign exchange conditions to enable it to take appropriate measures consistent with its primary mandate of promoting price stability under the inflation targeting framework,” he said.

“Under this framework, the BSP allows the peso’s value to be determined by market forces, with the BSP’s participation limited to ensuring orderly conditions in the foreign exchange market,” Tetangco added.

Despite the gyrations in the peso-dollar exchange rate, central bank officials said they were not worried about the depreciation of the Philippine currency because volatility levels remained tame.

The BSP said that despite the occasional swings, the market-determined exchange rate still worked as an efficient mechanism for allocating resources.

As long as the BSP could keep volatility within manageable levels, officials said the peso remained well within the range of regional currencies where economies are going through the same grinder as the Philippines.

Although the slowdown in the economy could affect external price competitiveness, the BSP said the impact was not so great since the movement of the peso was still in tandem with the movement of other regional currencies.

However, the BSP pointed out that during times of economic difficulty, the exchange rate could not be used as a determining factor for the strength of the country’s exports since market demand was the bigger factor to consider.


House rules HIDDEN AGENDA By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes Updated July 01, 2009 12:00 AM

Other publicly listed companies may learn a thing or two from yesterday’s stockholders’ meeting of Pilipino Telephone Co. or Piltel.

Some find their antics amusing. Others merely tolerate their presence. Many are visibly irritated, including reporters who cover the shareholders’ meetings of various publicly listed entities since how long the meeting would last would largely depend on them.

I am talking about a group of people, two of which have identified themselves as lawyers, who are permanent fixtures in almost every important shareholders meetings of mostly blue-chip and high-profile publicly listed companies.

They are shareholders, no doubt about it. How many shares they own in PLDT, Ayala Corp., Globe Telecom, ICTSI, we do not know.

What’s different about them is they always find themselves being the center of attraction at these meetings. The old woman in the group, for instance, preaches about how God will reward the management and board of these companies for doing a good job and for declaring dividends. At the last shareholders’ meeting of ICTSI, the woman was into her usual preaching mode when she forgot what meeting she was attending and asked ICTSI chairman Enrique Razon what meeting it was. Razon answered: “Meralco po.”

One of the lawyers in the group in one shareholders’ meeting once called on Ayala Corp. chairman Jaime Zobel de Ayala to run for president of the country for doing a good job in the company. The same call he made on PLDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan a few years’ back.

In one PLDT shareholders’ meeting, a member of the group even asked PLDT’s board of directors to give themselves billions of pesos in stipends because of a job well done.

They can be demanding too. During one Globe shareholders’ meeting, after the financial highlights were being discussed and questions from the floor entertained, a member of the group asked why she had difficulty entering the ballroom and said she deserved a better treatment as a shareholder.

I remember last year when GMA Network held its first shareholders’ meeting. The lawyer in the group was asking chairman Felipe Gozon several irrelevant questions which the latter patiently answered one by one. Obviously, Atty. Gozon hasn’t had much experience with this group.

Corporate secretaries are at a loss as to how to properly deal with these people. They are shareholders, whether owning one share or a 10,000 shares. They cannot be prevented from attending the meeting. But they monopolize the Q&A portion of the meeting, ask questions not relevant with the matter being discussed, are rude, lecture the likes of JAZA and Mr. Pangilinan about good business sense. We also learned that some of them even demand transportation allowance and hotel accommodation.

At the PLDT stockholders’ meeting last July 9, the old woman-member of the what we now call as the “professional stockholders’ group” castigated Mr. Pangilinan for ignoring her 40 years ago when she was complaining about her phone service (which we highly doubted because MVP probably wasn’t even working at that time). She didn’t want to stop so someone deliberately or unintentionally turned off her microphone. She went ballistics and said MVP was ignoring her again.

After her, one of the lawyers in the group started to accuse the PLDT board of violating the Corporation Code, saying that by appointing members of the board’s advisory group, PLDT is exceeding the maximum number of directors under the law which is 15. But of course, he got his math wrong because the advisers were not board members.

Inspite of MVP’s explanation that the number of board seats hasn’t changed, the alleged lawyer kept on insisting that PLDT was violating the law and started to shout, at which point MVP warned him that he was already out of order and could be taken out of the room. They simply went too far this time.

Which brings us to yesterday’s Piltel shareholders’ meeting. Before the meeting started, the corporate secretary flashed on the screen the “House Rules” which among others imposed a three-minute time limit per question, limited each shareholder to one question and that any follow-up question will be entertained at the discretion of the chair, reminded stockholders that the question must pertain to the item of agenda presented for approval, and warned the that in case they fail to observe the rules, the chair has the discretion to declare them out of order and expel them from the floor. The rules were flashed at least three times during the course of the meeting.

This is the first time, save probably for one unruly Meralco shareholders’ meeting were the rules were clarified, that a publicly listed company had to emphasize the rules that shareholders have to observe during the conduct of the meeting. And obviously, it was in response to the PLDT incident.

What amused many of those who attended, including this writer, is the noticeable change in the group’s demeanor. The lawyer in the group politely asked whether or not Piltel was violating the 15-man board cap and when MVP, who chairs Piltel, said there remains to be 13 board members, he did not insist on his point.

Two old guys, who I overhead were planning on how to question and oppose certain items on the agenda, did not push through with their plan. In short, the meeting was smoothsailing. The old woman wasn’t present so we wouldn’t know if the rules would put her in place.

Stockholders not only have rights, they also have responsibilities. And one of them is to observe the proper decorum during meetings, wait to be recognized by the chair, and ask questions that are relevant to the matter up for discussion.

Other publicly listed companies, who have been victims of this group for many years now and who have experienced how these people have embarassed and ridiculed many of the country’s respected business people, can get a few tips from the Piltel board on how to conduct a shareholders’ meeting without incident.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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