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BUSINESS HEADLINES THIS PAST WEEK...
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

NOW WHOLLY OWNED BY LUCIO TAN, PAL BUYS $1.8-B AIRBUS PLANES
[PAL’s passenger revenues rose 12.5 percent to P68.37 billion in the first nine months of 2015 from P60.78 billion a year earlier.]


FEBRUARY 17 =Philippine Airlines said Wednesday it signed a deal with Airbus Group SE to acquire six A350-900 jets worth $1.8 billion, with an option to buy six others, to support its international expansion. Asia’s first airline signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for the order of six A350-900s for $1.83 billion, with six purchase options, worth another $1.83 billion, or for a total of $3.66 billion at the sidelines of Singapore Airshow.
The list price for each A350-900 aircraft was $304.8 million. Philippine Airlines signs a $1.8-billion deal with Airbus Group SE to acquire six A350-900 aircraft, with an option for another six, as Asia’s first airline seeks to increase flights to the US. Shown is a PAL A350 plane with the New York skyline in the background. “After a thorough commercial and technical evaluation, we decided the A350 will best meet the requirements of our expanding operations,” PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista said in a statement. Bautista said the A350’s range capability was an important factor in the decision and would enable the airline to offer non-stop service on all premium long-haul routes. A350-900, which will have a three-class configuration (business class, premium economy and regular economy) is capable of flying non-stop from Manila to New York on a full load. READ MORE...

ALSO: San Miguel preparing to break ground on MRT-7
[The construction timeline calls for the start of the MRT-7 construction and construction-related activities on February 18, 2016, which will be completed on August 17, 2019]


FEBRUARY 15 -San Miguel Corporation is now preparing to break ground on the Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7) project after finally completing the financial closure requirements of the concession agreement.
"We have already submitted required documents to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) last week, certifying commitment from us and our banks to provide financing facilities for the project," San Miguel president Ramon Ang said in a statement. The MRT-7 project is a 22-kilometer-long rail line that will run from the North EDSA area in Quezon City to San Francisco del Monte in Bulacan via Commonwealth Avenue. Ang also serves as chairman of MRT-7 concessionaire Universal LRT Corp. (ULC), which is partly-owned by San Miguel and is the proponent of the billion-peso infrastructure project, which has been delayed due to financing. San Miguel said that having achieved financial closure, the contract for the construction of MRT-7 is now deemed "Contract Effective" under the terms of the concession agreement. Meanwhile, the MRT-7 construction timeline submitted by MRT-7 EPC contractor Hyundai Rotem-EEI consortium, has been approved by the DOTC. The construction timeline calls for the start of the MRT-7 construction and construction-related activities on February 18, 2016, which will be completed on August 17, 2019. THE FULL REPORT. RELATED, Financial closure for P62.7-B MRT-7 project completed, construction starts soon - San Miguel...

ALSO: IMF further trims Philippine GDP growth to 6%


FEBRUARY 18 -Chikahisa Sumi, assistant director for Asia and Pacific Department at IMF, said the agency expects the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth to settle at six percent this year and 6.2 percent next year. Philstar.com/File MANILA, Philippines – Multilateral lender International Monetary Fund (IMF) further slashed its economic growth projection for the Philippines but still expects the country to weather external shocks brought about by volatile global financial markets.
Chikahisa Sumi, assistant director for Asia and Pacific Department at IMF, said the agency expects the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth to settle at six percent this year and 6.2 percent next year. This was lower compared to the projections in IMF’s January 2016 World Economic Outlook (WEO) that slashed the country’s GDP growth to 6.2 percent instead of 6.3 percent for this year but retained the 6.5 percent forecast for next year. “Real GDP growth is projected at six percent in 2016 and 6.2 in 2017, driven by continued strong domestic demand offsetting weak net exports,” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO: IT specialists still highest paid employees in PH—report


Information Technology (IT) specialists continued to be the highest paid employees in the country according to the latest salary report of Jobstreet.com Philippines. Citing the results of the company’s National Salary Report, Jobstreet.com Philippines country manager Philip Gioca said the IT industry offered the best compensation across all position levels over the last three years, indicating the rising demand for IT-related services in the country.
For junior executives, the average monthly salary of an IT specialist stood at P38,149; P63,485 for supervisors; and P86,550 for managers and assistant managers. Gioca disclosed in a briefing Wednesday that for junior executives (one to four years of experience), the second highest paying job was those related to law and legal services, followed by actuarial and statistics, customer services and training and development. READ MORE...

ALSO: 2015 remittances up by 4.6% -BSP


FEBRUARY 18 -A total of 1.8 million overseas Filipino workers were deployed last year. - Proving resiliency, money sent home by Filipinos abroad hit a record in December to grow faster than target last year amid concerns of potential lay-offs in the Middle East because of low oil prices.
Cash remittances coursed through banks totaled $2.47 billion in December, up 4.9 percent from the previous year's $2.354 billion, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported on Friday. This brought last year's total tally to $25.767 billion, an increase of 4.6 percent that was faster than the central bank's revised forecast of 4 percent. "The continued deployment of skilled overseas Filipino workers remained a key factor to the growth in remittance inflows," BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said in a statement. A total of 1.8 million overseas Filipino workers were deployed last year, the central bank said, citing data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). Additionally, there were 835,247 job orders which POEA approved last year, 45 percent of which were already processed and are steps away for deployment. Interestingly, three of the five countries with most job orders were from the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait. Taiwan and Hong Kong were the other two. The Aquino administration is readying mitigation and response measures to potential labor retrenchments in the oil-rich Middle East amid plunging prices of the commodity. "So far because of the Middle East governments have very deep pockets they've been able to put off layoffs," said Emilio Neri Jr., lead economist at the Bank of the Philippine Islands. READ MORE...

ALSO: Luxurious Saks opens 1st store in Canada in downtown Toronto
[PRICES MIND-BLOWING. DEFINITELY A STORE FOR THE 'FEW'. High-end chain plans to have 7 stores across Canada by next year]


FEBRUARY 19 -Saks is a household name in the U.S., but the chain only launched its first store in Canada on Thursday, in downtown Toronto. Unlike lower- and mid-tier retailers that have been grounded in a tough market, high end retailers are faring comparatively well by catering to well-moneyed clientele. (Richard Drew/ Associated Press) Canadian fashion retailers face tough outlook, but luxury brands poised to do well Saks to open stores in Ontario spring 2016 High-end U.S. retail chain Saks makes its long anticipated debut in Canada today by opening its first store in Toronto. Recently acquired by Hudson's Bay Company, Saks has 38 stores in 22 U.S. states, but Thursday's launch on Queen Street in downtown Toronto is the luxury chain's first location in Canada.
Luxury brands poised to do well despite tough retail climate in Canada Why Middle Class retailers are dying a slow death in Canada Target's demise offers lessons for other Canadian retailers Another is set to open next week in suburban Etobicoke. Five more stores are expected to open in other Canadian cities in the months and years to follow. Saks has previously said it plans to open as many as 25 Canadian locations for its lower priced Saks Off 5th chain by 2019. Shoppers on hand were excited to get their first glimpse of the iconic chain. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

PAL buys $1.8-b Airbus planes

MANILA, FEBRUARY 22, 2016 (MANILA STANDARD) posted February 17, 2016  by Darwin G. Amojelar - Philippine Airlines said Wednesday it signed a deal with Airbus Group SE to acquire six A350-900 jets worth $1.8 billion, with an option to buy six others, to support its international expansion.

Asia’s first airline signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for the order of six A350-900s for $1.83 billion, with six purchase options, worth another $1.83 billion, or for a total of $3.66 billion at the sidelines of Singapore Airshow.

The list price for each A350-900 aircraft was $304.8 million.

Philippine Airlines signs a $1.8-billion deal with Airbus Group SE to acquire six A350-900 aircraft, with an option for another six, as Asia’s first airline seeks to increase flights to the US. Shown is a PAL A350 plane with the New York skyline in the background.

“After a thorough commercial and technical evaluation, we decided the A350 will best meet the requirements of our expanding operations,” PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista said in a statement.

Bautista said the A350’s range capability was an important factor in the decision and would enable the airline to offer non-stop service on all premium long-haul routes.

A350-900, which will have a three-class configuration (business class, premium economy and regular economy) is capable of flying non-stop from Manila to New York on a full load.

READ MORE...

PAL was debating between Airbus’s A350 and Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, Bautista said last year.

PAL plans to deploy the A350 XWB (extra wide body), which seats more than 300, on new routes to North America and Europe. The first A350 is scheduled to be delivered in 2018.

Airbus president and chief executive Fabrice Bregier said A350 XWB set new standards, combining extra-long range capability with the lowest operating costs of any aircraft in the larger twin-aisle category.

“Passengers flying with PAL can look forward to the new levels of comfort offered by the aircraft, with a wider and quieter cabin, and more personal space for all,” Bregier said.

PAL also signed a $600-million order with Rolls-Royce for Trent XWB engines to power the six A350.

The Trent XWB is the world’s most efficient engine flying today and the fastest-selling wide body engine with more than 1,500 engines sold to 41 customers. PAL currently uses Trent 700 engines for its fleet of 15 A330 aircraft.

A350 is the world’s latest generation airliner, featuring the most modern aero-dynamic design, carbon fiber fuselage and wings. With the Trent XWB engines, the A350 operates at 25 percent less fuel burn and emissions, significantly lowering maintenance costs. The extra-wide cabin provides passengers more personal space in all classes.

Airbus recorded 777 firm orders for the A350 XWB from 41 customers worldwide, making it one of the most successful widebody aircraft on record.

PAL, now wholly-owned by tycoon Lucio Tan after he bought back a 49-percent stake that San Miguel Corp. purchased from him in 2012, posted a comprehensive income of P6.55 billion in the first nine months of 2015, up from P169.1 million in 2014.

PAL Holdings attributed the sharp increase in comprehensive income during the period to strong revenues, which rose 10.8 percent to P81.98 billion from P73.98 billion in 2014.

PAL’s passenger revenues rose 12.5 percent to P68.37 billion in the first nine months of 2015 from P60.78 billion a year earlier. With Vito Barcelo, Bloomberg


ABS-CBN

San Miguel preparing to break ground on MRT-7 ABS-CBN News Posted at 02/15/16 7:29 PM

MANILA - San Miguel Corporation is now preparing to break ground on the Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7) project after finally completing the financial closure requirements of the concession agreement.

"We have already submitted required documents to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) last week, certifying commitment from us and our banks to provide financing facilities for the project," San Miguel president Ramon Ang said in a statement.

The MRT-7 project is a 22-kilometer-long rail line that will run from the North EDSA area in Quezon City to San Francisco del Monte in Bulacan via Commonwealth Avenue.

Ang also serves as chairman of MRT-7 concessionaire Universal LRT Corp. (ULC), which is partly-owned by San Miguel and is the proponent of the billion-peso infrastructure project, which has been delayed due to financing.

San Miguel said that having achieved financial closure, the contract for the construction of MRT-7 is now deemed "Contract Effective" under the terms of the concession agreement.

Meanwhile, the MRT-7 construction timeline submitted by MRT-7 EPC contractor Hyundai Rotem-EEI consortium, has been approved by the DOTC.

The construction timeline calls for the start of the MRT-7 construction and construction-related activities on February 18, 2016, which will be completed on August 17, 2019.

-----------------------------

RELATED FROM INTERAKSYON ONLINE

Financial closure for P62.7-B MRT-7 project completed, construction starts soon - San Miguel By: Daryl Gutierrez, InterAksyon.com February 15, 2016 7:24 PM InterAksyon.com means BUSINESS


ANG

MANILA - San Miguel Corp said on Monday it has completed the financial closure for the P62.7-billion MRT 7 project, a development that paves the way for the start of construction on February 18, and easing concern that its failure to do so might lead to further delays in the project.

San Miguel Corporation (SMC), through MRT-7 concessionaire Universal LRT Corp BVI Ltd (ULC), said it fully complied with the financial closure requirements of the MRT-7 concession agreement. It said it will soon break ground on the project.

ULC chairman Ramon S. Ang said, “We already submitted required documents to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) last week, certifying commitment from us and our banks to provide financing facilities for the project.”

It comes ahead of the February 19 deadline for the submission of financial closure, which refers to the process of completing all financial transactions related to a project.

Having achieved financial closure, the contract for the construction of MRT-7 is now deemed “Contract Effective” under the terms of the MRT-7 concession agreement. ULC asked DOTC to determine the date for the groundbreaking.

According to San Miguel, the MRT-7 construction timeline submitted by MRT-7 EPC contractor Hyundai Rotem-EEI consortium has been approved by the Department of Transportation and Communications.

The construction timeline calls for the MRT-7 construction and construction-related activities to start on February 18, 2016, and to be completed August 17, 2019.

There was concern earlier that construction of the P62.7-billion MRT Line 7 may be delayed again, if San Miguel Corp. fails to meet the Feb. 19 deadline to submit financial closure on the project.

Construction of MRT 7 has been delayed for seven years, because of the proponent’s failure to secure a performance undertaking from the Finance Department.

MRT 7 involves building a 22.8-kilometer rail system from North Ave. at the corner of EDSA in Quezon City, passing through Commonwealth Ave., Regalado Ave. and Quirino Highway up to the proposed intermodal transportation terminal in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan. There will be 14 stations.

Also part of the project is the construction of a 22-kilometer road that will connect to North Luzon Expressway near the Bocaue exit.

The railway is envisioned to serve 2 million commuters in the northern parts of Quezon and Caloocan cities and the towns of Bulacan.

ULC also plans to develop 900,000 square meters of commercial space in San Jose del Monte throughout the concession period.


PHILSTAR

IMF further trims Philippine GDP growth to 6% By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 18, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0

Chikahisa Sumi, assistant director for Asia and Pacific Department at IMF, said the agency expects the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth to settle at six percent this year and 6.2 percent next year. Philstar.com/File MANILA, Philippines – Multilateral lender International Monetary Fund (IMF) further slashed its economic growth projection for the Philippines but still expects the country to weather external shocks brought about by volatile global financial markets.

Chikahisa Sumi, assistant director for Asia and Pacific Department at IMF, said the agency expects the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth to settle at six percent this year and 6.2 percent next year.

This was lower compared to the projections in IMF’s January 2016 World Economic Outlook (WEO) that slashed the country’s GDP growth to 6.2 percent instead of 6.3 percent for this year but retained the 6.5 percent forecast for next year.

“Real GDP growth is projected at six percent in 2016 and 6.2 in 2017, driven by continued strong domestic demand offsetting weak net exports,” he said.

READ MORE...

Sumi led an IMF mission that visited the country from Feb. 11 to Feb. 17 and met with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. and other economic managers. The 2016 Article IV consultation mission of the IMF is scheduled in June or July this year.

The economy slowed down to 5.8 percent last year from 6.1 percent in 2014 due to weak global demand and weak government spending. The expansion accelerated to 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter last year from the revised 6.1 percent in the third quarter.

The IMF official said the economy has performed remarkably well in the face of a weaker external environment and global financial turbulence in 2015.

The multilateral lender cited unemployment rate has fallen to a decade’s low of 5.3 percent, but significant under-employment remains.

Amid the robust growth, inflation eased to a 20-year low of 1.4 percent last year from 4.1 percent in 2014 due to stable food prices and cheaper utility rates brought about by the continued softening of oil prices in the world market.

Despite a sizable decline in the fuel import bill and continued strong business process outsourcing (BPO) inflows, the current account surplus is estimated to fall to three percent of GDP last year from 3.8 percent in 2014 due to sluggish exports and remittances.

Sumi said the country’s current account surplus is likely to narrow further this year. He added the peso depreciated against the dollar in 2015, but by less than other regional currencies.

For this year, IMF said the country’s economic outlook remains favorable and is likely to survive external shocks brought about by the volatile global financial markets and the economic slowdown in China.

“The economic outlook is favorable but subject to increased downside risks, including lower growth in China and the region, higher global financial volatility and capital outflows, and weather related disruptions,” Sumi said.

According to Sumi, the Philippines has enough buffer to weather the crisis. “The Philippines’ capacity to respond if these risks materialize is substantial given its ample reserves and policy space, both monetary and fiscal,” Sumi said.

Sumi explained the 13.1 percent credit growth last year is supportive of financial stability and sustainable growth as private credit to construction and real estate has moderated.


INQUIRER

IT specialists still highest paid employees in PH—report By: Amy R. Remo @inquirerdotnet
Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:39 PM February 18th, 2016



Information Technology (IT) specialists continued to be the highest paid employees in the country according to the latest salary report of Jobstreet.com Philippines.

Citing the results of the company’s National Salary Report, Jobstreet.com Philippines country manager Philip Gioca said the IT industry offered the best compensation across all position levels over the last three years, indicating the rising demand for IT-related services in the country.

For junior executives, the average monthly salary of an IT specialist stood at P38,149; P63,485 for supervisors; and P86,550 for managers and assistant managers.

Gioca disclosed in a briefing Wednesday that for junior executives (one to four years of experience), the second highest paying job was those related to law and legal services, followed by actuarial and statistics, customer services and training and development.

READ MORE...

Rounding off the top 10 highest paying jobs under this category include public relations and communications, banking/financial services, arts/creatives, finance-related, marketing and business development.

For supervisors, law and legal services jobs offered the second highest compensation, followed by quality control and assurance, finance-related, and customer service-related jobs.

For managers, corporate strategy offered the second highest compensation followed by actuarial science and statistics, quality control, and customer service-related.

On the average, salaries across the top jobs in demand in the country rose by 7 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year, on the back of a robust local economy. Such growth, according to Gioca, was the highest salary increase recorded over the past three years.

“This (salary increase) is reflective of what the economy is presenting us. The number of jobs grew because the economy (performed) much better that we can now afford to give more jobs,” Gioca further said. RAM


PHILSTAR

2015 remittances up by 4.6% By Prinz Magtulis (philstar.com) | Updated February 19, 2016 - 6:06pm 1 2 googleplus0 0

A total of 1.8 million overseas Filipino workers were deployed last year. MANILA, Philippines - Proving resiliency, money sent home by Filipinos abroad hit a record in December to grow faster than target last year amid concerns of potential lay-offs in the Middle East because of low oil prices.

Cash remittances coursed through banks totaled $2.47 billion in December, up 4.9 percent from the previous year's $2.354 billion, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported on Friday.

This brought last year's total tally to $25.767 billion, an increase of 4.6 percent that was faster than the central bank's revised forecast of 4 percent.

"The continued deployment of skilled overseas Filipino workers remained a key factor to the growth in remittance inflows," BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said in a statement.

A total of 1.8 million overseas Filipino workers were deployed last year, the central bank said, citing data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

Additionally, there were 835,247 job orders which POEA approved last year, 45 percent of which were already processed and are steps away for deployment.

Interestingly, three of the five countries with most job orders were from the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait. Taiwan and Hong Kong were the other two.

The Aquino administration is readying mitigation and response measures to potential labor retrenchments in the oil-rich Middle East amid plunging prices of the commodity.

"So far because of the Middle East governments have very deep pockets they've been able to put off layoffs," said Emilio Neri Jr., lead economist at the Bank of the Philippine Islands.

READ MORE...

"But our concern is whether this can be sustained in the long-term basis and if it will persist, how the cash flows of these governments can be negatively affected," he said in a phone interview.

To an extent, Neri said the "protracted" decline in oil prices is "somewhat unique" when compared with previous threats to OFWs such as the global financial crisis and geopolitical concerns.

Around 2 million Filipinos are living and working in the Middle East, according to data from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.

But Neri said bulk of remittances come from the US. Detailed BSP data on remittances per territory were unavailable as of press time.

"It's hard to name a particular month or semester that we will see the deficits of the Middle East economies to widen excessively. It can happen anytime," he said.

"The important thing is we should be prepared," he added.

The BSP still expects remittances to grow 4 percent this year.


CBC.CA

Luxury store Saks opens 1st store in Canada in downtown Toronto; plans to have 7 stores across Canada by next year By Pete Evans, CBC News Posted: Feb 18, 2016 11:21 AM ET Last Updated: Feb 18, 2016 1:33 PM ET


Saks is a household name in the U.S., but the chain only launched its first store in Canada on Thursday, in downtown Toronto. Unlike lower- and mid-tier retailers that have been grounded in a tough market, high end retailers are faring comparatively well by catering to well-moneyed clientele. (Richard Drew/ Associated Press)

Canadian fashion retailers face tough outlook, but luxury brands poised to do well Saks to open stores in Ontario spring 2016 High-end U.S. retail chain Saks makes its long anticipated debut in Canada today by opening its first store in Toronto.

Recently acquired by Hudson's Bay Company, Saks has 38 stores in 22 U.S. states, but Thursday's launch on Queen Street in downtown Toronto is the luxury chain's first location in Canada.

Luxury brands poised to do well despite tough retail climate in Canada

Why Middle Class retailers are dying a slow death in Canada

Target's demise offers lessons for other Canadian retailers

Another is set to open next week in suburban Etobicoke. Five more stores are expected to open in other Canadian cities in the months and years to follow.

Saks has previously said it plans to open as many as 25 Canadian locations for its lower priced Saks Off 5th chain by 2019.

Shoppers on hand were excited to get their first glimpse of the iconic chain.

READ MORE...

 

Saks is just the latest U.S. chain to take aim at the Canadian market, doing battle with rival Nordstrom, which has already opened stores in Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa.

Saks Acquisition Saks is a household name in the U.S., but the chain only launched its first store in Canada on Thursday, in downtown Toronto. (Richard Drew/ Associated Press)

Unlike lower- and mid-tier retailers that have been grounded in a tough market, high end retailers are faring comparatively well by catering to well-moneyed clientele.

Danier Leather begins insolvency proceedings Women's clothier Jacob to shut all 92 stores in Canada Smart Set stores vanish as part of Reitmans restructuring ANALYSIS: Le Chateau rocked by brutal competition "That customer is somewhat insulated," retail consultant Bruce Winder said in an interview with CBC News. "Saks customers are quite well off, even if the stock market is down."

The Canadian launch of Saks also comes on the heels of the failure in Canada of Target, as the discount chain was done in by logistical problems and slow sales due to higher than expected prices.

Unlike Target, Winder said, he suspects Saks has done "exhaustive" research into the market by comparison shopping at new rivals such as Holt Renfrew and Harry Rosen.

"They [Saks] have learned that their pricing is right," he said. "But they're under tremendous scrutiny, so they're going one store at a time, to test and learn."


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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