Friday, December 12, 2003
Philippines' ABS-CBN Broadcasting to reduce debt by 1.9 bln pesos next year
Philip Morris Philippines acquires four Sterling Tobacco brands
Forex - Philippine peso closes weaker on dollar short-covering
Philippines' Far Eastern University declares 8.00 pesos/share cash dividend
First Philippine Holdings to list 41,922 common shares Dec 15 - PSE
Philippines' customs bureau collections as of Dec 10 exceed FY target
Manila shares close up, led by PLDT at 34-mth high, on Wall St gains
Philippines' Premier Cement redeems preferred shares held by Republic Cement
Indonesia's Indofood says San Miguel proposes distribution deal
STOCK ALERT - Philippine Transpacific Broadcast higher on PSE debut
Philippine Stock Exchange to proceed with share listing on Dec 15
Philippine SEC approves Globe Telecom's 2.7 bln peso bond offer
Philippines' Security Bank says 2.5 bln peso notes offer rated BB- by Fitch
Suez, Philippine govt in talks to settle Manila water venture dispute - report
Hong Kong-listed First Pacific lends 10 mln hkd to unit Metro Pacific
Philippines, Japan sign 208.5 mln usd power-related deals
Philippines' Asian Terminals appoints new CEO effective Feb 1
Philippines' NextStage says quasi-reorganization to wipe out deficit
Thursday, December 11, 2003
ADB upgrades East Asian economic growth outlook
Manila shares close flat on consolidation, Camacho comments
Japan, Philippines agree to start free trade agreement negotiations - Kyodo
Forex - Philippine peso weakens on Camacho's fiscal crisis remark
Manila shares down slightly on consolidation, Camacho's comments
Philippines' Benpres says Maynilad, MWSS in talks to settle debt dispute
Matsushita Electric Philippines appoints new president/chairman
Philippines' Fortune Cement to merge with unit, pay convertible notes
Philippines' Arroyo approves 'open skies' policy in Subic, Clark - report
Philippines' ex-finance chief Camacho says government in fiscal crisis -report
Philippine govt considers rice import liberalization - report
Philippine Nat'l Bank eyes Latin America for remittance business - report
India's Global Infrastructure hikes offer for Philippines' National Steel
Philippines economic and corporate news summary QSK93
Philippine govt extends Aboitiz unit's power supply franchise by 180 days
Philippines' movie star proclaimed opposition presidential candidate
Philippines' Napocor awards 1.5 bln peso fuel supply contracts to Petron
Philippine National Bank sees 2003 net profit target achievable - UPDATE
Philippine court approves Primetown Property's petition for rehabilitation
Philippine budget chief Boncodin rules out expenditure 'front-loading' in 2004
Philippine President accepts Trade Secretary Roxas' resignation
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
Philippines to double terminal fees for domestic flights at Manila airport
Philippine National Bank 2003 net profit goal of 150 mln peso achievable - CEO
Manila shares close mixed on consolidation
Forex - Philippine peso weaker on dollar demand by oil companies
Philippine Treasury to auction 3.5 bln pesos 7-year zero-coupon T-bonds Dec 16
STOCK ALERT - Philippines' PLDT firmer on window-dressing among investors
Philippine trade secretary Roxas to resign today, run in 2004 poll
Philippine National Bank clarifies Oct net profit at 6.0 mln pesos
FOCUS-Arroyo the underdog as Philippine election season begins next week
Philippines' Security Bank confirms 2.5 bln pesos debt offer in January
Philippine Fil-Hispano, All-Asia Customer Services sign MoA for due diligence
Philippine National Bank posts 44 mln net loss in Oct
Philippine Napocor declares failed bidding for transfer of diesel power plant
Philippines' Oilink International to list on stock exchange - report
Fraport confirms was raided in connection with Manila airport terminal project
Philippines' Primex to convert 100 mln preferred shares into common shares
Philippine Nov motor vehicle sales down 2.9 pct yr/yr, Jan-Nov up 11.1 pct
Philippines PNOC unit to seek 120 mln usd JBIC loan to fund geothermal project
Philippines' Nov BIR collections 42.25 bln pesos, exceeds target
Philippine Treasury raises 31.548 bln pesos from 3-year retail bond issue
December 8 - 9
December 3 - 5
December 1 - 2
|Philippines' ABS-CBN Broadcasting to reduce debt by 1.9 bln pesos next year|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp is set to retire next year maturing debt amounting to 1.9 bln pesos, which will reduce its debt level to about 4.0 bln, chief finance officer Randolph Estrellado said.
He said the company, which saw strong advertising revenue growth in the first nine months of the year, is fully hedged against debts falling due next year, despite indefinitely deferring its bond offering.
The company postponed its planned 150 mln usd global bond issue due to the Philippines' uncertain political climate, which could impact on pricing.
"The bond float was simply intended to broaden our sources of funding," Estrellado told reporters.
ABS-CBN's total debt stood at about 6.0 bln pesos as at end-September and the amount will decline to 5.8 bln come the end of the year, he said.
It booked a the nine months to September 2003 net profit of 889 mln pesos, a year-on-year increase of 1,260 pct from 65.4 mln, on the sustained recovery in advertising revenue.
Consolidated net revenue for the nine-month period rose 24.0 pct to 9.67 bln pesos from a year earlier, while operating expenses increased 17.0 pct to 7.79 bln.
Earlier, Estrellado said the strong growth in the nine-month period means ABS-CBN is expected to hit its 1.0 bln pesos net profit target easily this year.
(1 usd = 55.47 pesos)
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) -
He said the expansion of the company's brand portfolio is supported by its 300.0 mln usd state-of-the-art cigarette manufacturing facility in Tanauan City, in the province of Batangas which commenced operations late last year.
"As a business objective,
|Forex - Philippine peso closes weaker on dollar short-covering|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The peso closed weaker against the dollar as banks covered their short positions on the US unit ahead of the weekend, dealers said.
The peso closed at 55.470 to the dollar after trading at between 55.410 and 55.500 on volume of 107.80 mln usd. It closed at 55.440 yesterday.
"There's been the usual short-covering before the week ends. That's the trend we've been seeing in the past few weeks," a commercial bank dealer said.
Market players tend to be cautious towards the end of the week, mindful of the uncertain political environment as the May elections draw near, the dealer said.
"We may see the peso strengthen next week, on support from more remittances from Filipinos abroad ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays," the dealer said.
He also did not rule out the central bank infusing dollar liquidity into the market to make the peso firmer by the end of the year.
"But we don't think those expected gains for peso are sustainable given the prevailing political uncertainties," the dealer said.
The dollar is seen trading at a range of 55.250-55.550 for the rest of the year.
|Philippines' Far Eastern University declares 8.00 pesos/share cash dividend|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Far Eastern University said its board of trustees has approved a cash dividend of 8.00 pesos per share, payable to stockholders on record as of Jan 9, 2004.
The cash dividends total 37.37 mln pesos with payment set for Jan 19.
(1 usd = 55.46 pesos)
|First Philippine Holdings to list 41,922 common shares Dec 15 - PSE|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - First Philippine Holdings Corp will list an additional 41,922 common shares, arising from its stock option plan, on December 15, the Philipine Stock Exchange said.
First Holdings closed today up 0.50 peso at 18.50.
(1 usd = 55.46 pesos)
|Philippines' customs bureau collections as of Dec 10 exceed FY target|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Bureau of Customs (BoC) said it already exceeded its full-year collection target of 100.056 bln pesos as total revenue reached 100.205 bln as of December 10.
The BOC said its collections from January 1 to December 10 was 4.85 bln pesos higher than the target figure for the period.
"We only need to exceed the 2003 target by 4.51 bln pesos to break the all-time collection record of 104.566 bln pesos posted in 1996," said BoC commissioner Antonio Bernardo.
The government is confident this year's budget deficit will come in within the targeted level of 202 bln pesos.
It expects the deficit to be below the 17.8 bln pesos ceiling in November due to better-than-expected tax collections in the month.
(1 usd = 55.46 pesos)
|Manila shares close up, led by PLDT at 34-mth high, on Wall St gains|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Share prices closed sharply higher on buying in select blue chips, led by Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co (PLDT), and on inspiration from the Dow's advance overnight beyond the 10,000-point mark, dealers said.
PLDT, which is expected to post significant net profit growth this year on the back of strong gains of its wireless business, rose to its highest price level in about 34 months.
The composite index closed up 23.72 points, or 1.74 pct, at a month-high of 1,383.32 on volume of 119.6 mln shares valued at 776.13 mln pesos. It traded between 1,370.44 and 1,388.35.
It was the index's highest close since November 11, when it finished at 1, 383.81.
The index broke resistance at 1,380 and was seen testing another resistance level at 1,390.
In the broader market, gainers led losers 35 to 16, while 34 stocks were unchanged.
However, investors could simply be taking short-term positions, given the political and economic uncertainties in the run-up to the May elections, dealers said.
PLDT was top-traded volume of 446,340 shares, rising 40 pesos to 880, its highest closing price level since Feb 12, 2001, when it ended at 900 pesos.
"The market responded positively to Wall Street's performance last night. I think sentiment towards equities (in the US) has turned positive, especially after the US FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) kept key interest rates steady," ATR-Kim Eng Securities research head Andrew Long said.
Some analysts in the US attributed the push past the symbolically important level on the Dow to release of the minutes from the Fed's FOMC meeting in October, which reinforced an outlook for tame inflation and low interest rates.
Citiseconline.com analyst Mark Alan Canizares said the strong economic prospects in the US, the Philippines' biggest trading partner, is helping to fuel the traditional year-end rally in the local market.
Buying interest was also focused on consumer-related stocks on expectations of increased consumer spending during the Christmas holidays and beyond as the election season draws near, he added.
PLDT rival Globe Telecom gained 20 to 780 on 85,670 shares.
Ayala Corp was up 0.20 at 5.10 on 21.2 mln shares.
Manila Electric B, available to foreign investors, was up 0.50 at 24 on 3. 8 mln shares and Meralco A up 0.50 at 15.
Bank of the Philippine Islands was up 1.00 at 46.50.
SM Prime Holdings was down 0.10 at 6.20, after gains early in the session, on volume of 3.2 mln shares.
Ayala Land advanced 0.20 to 5.70 on 2.59 mln shares.
Petron Corp gained 0.02 to 2.20 on 4.3 mln shares.
PLDT affiliate Pilipino Telephone was up 0.03 at 0.85 on 3.9 mln shares.
Meralco parent First Philippine Holdings was up 0.50 at 18.50 on 139,800 shares.
The all-shares index was up 10.41 points at 848.25.
The commercial-industrial index rose 39.57 to 2,083.85.
Property was up 5.68 at 544.88.
Mining was down 5.14 at 1,638.77, while oil was unchanged at 1.36.
Banking and financial services gained 3.70 to 435.38.
Analysts expect a further accumulation of select stocks next week, but see volumes weakening ahead of the holidays.
"We may see continued accumulation or some sort of window-dressing next week," ATR-Kim Eng's Long said.
(1 usd = 55.46 pesos)
|Philippines' Premier Cement redeems preferred shares held by Republic Cement|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Republic Cement Corp told the stock exchange that Premier Cement Corp has redeemed its 54,798 redeemable preferred shares held by Republic at a price of 6.58 mln pesos.
Premier Cement is to merge with its parent Fortune Cement Corp with the parent remaining as the surviving entity.
(1 usd = 55.50 pesos)
|Indonesia's Indofood says San Miguel proposes distribution deal|
JAKARTA (AFX-ASIA) - PT Indomarco Adi Prima, a trading unit of the world's largest noodle maker, PT Indofood Sukses Makmur, has been approached by San Miguel Corp of the Philippines to distribute food and beverage products in Indonesia, Indofood deputy chief executive officer Cesar dela Cruz said.
"(San Miguel) met with our distribution unit, Indomarco. They want us to distribute their products," he said, adding the meeting took place a few weeks ago.
He said the proposal covers San Miguel food and beverage products which the company plans to produce in Indonesia.
De la Cruz did not provide details on the products but added they would not include beer. San Miguel already owns a brewery under the brand Anker Bir in Indonesia, he explained.
Asked whether Indofood is interested in a partnership, dela Cruz said "it's up to them (San Miguel)."
San Miguel, the Philippines' largest publicly-listed food, beverage and packaging company, is in talks with two to three Indonesian firms over expanding its business here, according to a Philippine newspaper report from late November.
In a statement to the Philippine Stock Exchange late last month, San Miguel confirmed the plan, saying it is studying investment opportunities in Indonesia.
Last year, San Miguel also tried to acquire a stake in Indofood but the talks ended without a deal.
Dela Cruz said that San Miguel's offer was not to purchase a stake in Indomarco, which is 80 pct owned by Indofood.
Indomarco is one of four distribution units of Indofood.
|STOCK ALERT - Philippine Transpacific Broadcast higher on PSE debut|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Transpacific Broadcast Group International Inc was firmer against its initial public offering price of 1.38 pesos per share, as investors see positive earnings prospects for the satellite service provider, dealers said.
They said the company, which has a licence to operate a satellite earth station for use in commercial telecommunications and television broadcasting operations, has good prospects of boosting its revenues, which come mostly from Internet and other services provided to schools, hospitals, private corporations and government agencies.
Transpacific Broadcast was up 0.02 at 1.40 on 310,000 shares. It gained as much as 0.08 to 1.46 at the start of trading.
"I think the company has good earnings prospects as there seems to be room for growth for the local Internet service market," Accord Capital Equities research consultant Ron Rodrigo said.
Dealers, however, said the stock is unlikely to attract much interest given its size, and as investors are understandably focused on other stocks with proven sound fundamentals.
A unit of listed ATN Holdings Inc, Transpacific Broadcast has been allowed to list up to 76.64 mln shares or 37 pct of its common stock.
It will use the IPO proceeds of an estimated 92 mln pesos to purchase an additional very small aperture terminal, or VSAT, costing 69 mln, as well as cover working capital requirement of 12.9 mln and marketing promotions expenses of 9.9 mln.
The company offered its shares to the public from Nov 17-28, with RCBC Capital Corp as the lead underwriter.
The company began commercial operations in 1996.
(1 usd = 55.50 pesos)
|Philippine Stock Exchange to proceed with share listing on Dec 15|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) will go ahead with the listing of its shares on Monday (Dec 15) by introduction mode or listing without undertaking an initial public offering, BusinessWorld newspaper reported.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has approved PSE's registration of some 9.2 mln shares that will be offered to investors.
The shares will be listed on the first board of the exchange.
The listing is expected to reduce PSE member-brokers' ownership of the bourse to a maximum of 20 pct from 100 pct, as part of its demutualization program.
The SEC has imposed an end-2003 deadline for PSE's long overdue listing.
ATR Kim Eng Securities is PSE's advisor for the listing and is expected to come up with the indicative price for PSE shares soon.
|Philippine SEC approves Globe Telecom's 2.7 bln peso bond offer|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Securities and Exchange Commission said it has approved Globe Telecom Inc's 2.7 bln peso bond offering.
Globe earlier said it may increase the size of the offer to 3.50 bln pesos, depending on market conditions.
Globe plans to launch the bonds, which will have a three- to five-year maturity, next year to refinance a portion of a 220.00 mln usd senior notes issue, due in 2009.
(1 usd = 55.44 pesos)
|Philippines' Security Bank says 2.5 bln peso notes offer rated BB- by Fitch|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Security Bank Corp said Fitch Ratings has assigned a BB- rating to its 2.5 bln peso tier 2 notes issue, and a BB rating to its long-term foreign and local currency senior notes.
Fitch's ratings reflect a stable outlook on the bank's creditworthiness.
The bank, which will offer the subordinated notes in the second week of January, has conducted a series of roadshows for potential investors in the provinces of Cebu and Davao and in metropolitan Manila.
(1 usd = 55.44 pesos)
|Suez, Philippine govt in talks to settle Manila water venture dispute - report|
PARIS (AFX) - The Philippine government is in talks with Suez and local conglomerate Benpres Holding to settle a costly dispute over a water privatisation venture in Manila, the Financial Times reported, quoting people familiar with the situation.
The report said the settlement may require the government to fully or partially buy out Suez and Benpres from Maynilad Water Services through a debt-for-equity swap.
Such a settlement would clear the way for the government to sell the stake to a new group of investors once the company's situation had improved, the report said.
Talks between the government and Maynilad shareholders are still in preliminary stages, it said.
|Hong Kong-listed First Pacific lends 10 mln hkd to unit Metro Pacific|
HONG KONG (AFX-ASIA) - Conglomerate First Pacific Co Ltd said it has extended a 10 mln hkd shareholder loan to 80.6 pct-owned Philippines-listed subsidiary Metro Pacific Corp.
The loan, which carries an interest rate of 9 pct per annum, is payable on a monthly basis until Dec 31, 2005.
First Pacific said the loan provides Metro Pacific with cash resources for general working capital requirements.
(1 usd = 7.80 hkd)
|Philippines, Japan sign 208.5 mln usd power-related deals|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Philippines has secured 208.5 mln usd worth of funding from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) for three power-related projects, the Department of Energy (DOE) said.
President Gloria Arroyo, who flew to Tokyo to attend a summit of leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Japan, witnessed the signing of the agreements between JBIC Governor Kyosuke Shinozawa and the Philippine Ambassador to Japan Domingo Siazon Jr, a DOE statement issued in Manila said.
The funding agreements cover the setting up of the country's wholesale electricity spot market (WESM), the construction of the Leyte-Cebu grid interconnection project and a 210-megawatt clean coal power plant in northern Mindanao.
"These agreements show the strong confidence and trust of the international banking community in the country's macroeconomic fundamentals," the statement quoted Energy Secretary Vincent Perez as saying.
He noted that the Leyte-Cebu interconnection project will allow some 200 MW of cheaper and environment-friendly power to be transmitted to the grid connecting Cebu, Negros and Panay provinces in the central Philippines.
The coal-based power project in Mindanao, on the other hand, will help boost electricity supplies, support economic growth and diversify the sources of energy in the region, he said.
The government, meanwhile, is to set up a market for wholesale trading of electricity, which will operate like a stock market.
Perez said the WESM will allow consumers to choose their electricity supplier and so result in electricity being competitively priced.
|Philippines' Asian Terminals appoints new CEO effective Feb 1|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Asian Terminals Inc said its board of directors has elected Jeremy JL Rickcord as its new chief executive officer and executive vice president, effective Feb 1.
He will replace John Buckley.
The board also approved the appointment of Mark Ripka as senior vice president for South Harbor Operations effective Jan 1, replacing Paul Hough, whose contract as senior vice president for domestic operations expires at the end of the year.
Sean James Perez was also appointed as vice president for marketing and commercial services, retroactively from Sept 1 this year.
|Philippines' NextStage says quasi-reorganization to wipe out deficit|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Cement producer NextStage Inc said it is implementing a quasi-reorganization aimed at wiping out its deficit, which amounted to 184. 15 mln pesos as of end-2002.
The company, formerly known as Pacific Cement Co Inc, told the stock exchange that it has applied for a decrease in capital with the Securities and Exchange Commission, via a reduction of its par value to 0.20 pesos from 1.00 peso.
"It is desired that the quasi-reorganization be approved by the SEC within the month of December 2003," it said in a disclosure.
"In this regard, we shall be liaising with the exchange for the suspension of the trading of the company's shares before the approval of the pending applications in the SEC in order to effect the orderly adjustment of number of shares per stockholder by the time said applications are approved by the SEC."
NextStage closed today untraded after closing at 2.85 pesos previously.
(1 usd = 55.40 pesos)
|ADB upgrades East Asian economic growth outlook|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - China, South Korea and the Southeast Asian nations are expected to grow an average 6.1 pct this year and 6.6 pct in 2004, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said today, revising upwards an earlier forecast.
The higher-than-expected growth will be built on the back of China's rapid expansion, an improving external environment and strong domestic demand, said the ADB's quarterly report tracking growth and reforms in the 12 East Asian economies.
The ADB had previously forecast 5.6 pct growth in 2003 and 6.3 pct in 2004 for the East Asian economies.
"Three factors are driving the strong growth in East Asian economies -- the improved outlook for the US, Japan and to a lesser extent Europe; the continued strength of domestic demand in a number of East Asian countries and the rapid growth of the China economy, which, in turn, is driving intra-regional trade," said Pradumna Rana, director of the ADB's Regional Economic Monitoring Unit (REMU), in the report.
Composite leading indicators for the major industrial countries point to a strengthening of economic growth in the months ahead, it added.
The ADB report said that the external economic environment facing East Asia improved significantly in the third quarter of 2003 with encouraging corporate earnings fuelling a a global stock market rally.
The US economic rebound has strengthened, Japan's economic recovery is becoming more robust and a gradual turnaround is under way in Europe, the report noted.
"A synchronized upswing in growth is now evident both in the G3 countries and East Asia," Rana said.
The report said stronger consumer spending is a key positive trend in the region, with the backing of lower interest rates, fiscal stimulus measures, the success in recapitalizing and restructuring financial and corporate sectors, and a switch to consumer lending by financial institutions.
The ADB study found consumer spending accounted for more than a third of the growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in Indonesia and the Philippines, and more than half in Thailand in the past 18 months.
"There are also tentative signs private investment, after being subdued for some time, is starting to pick up in the five crisis-affected countries in general and Thailand in particular," says the report.
Besides Thailand, other countries that took a hit from the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, which a currency meltdown sparked, were Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.
The ADB report forecast GDP 2003 growths of 8.5 pct for China's, 3.8 pct for Indonesia, 2.7 pct for South Korea, 4.6 pct for Malaysia, 3.7 pct for the Philippines, 0.8 pct for Singapore, 6.0 pct for Thailand and 7.0 pct for Vietnam.
Growth in 2004 should taper off to 7.9 pct in China, but rise to 4.4 pct in Indonesia, 5.2 pct in South Korea, 5.4 pct in Malaysia, 4.0 pct in the Philippines, 4.9 pct in Singapore, 6.1 pct in Thailand and 7.4 pct in Vietnam, the ADB said.
China, the report said, is an increasingly vital engine of East Asian growth with economies in the region benefiting from a sharp third-quarter growth rebound in the world's most populous nation after the SARS outbreak.
|Manila shares close flat on consolidation, Camacho comments|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Share prices closed flat as the market continued to consolidate, dealers said.
Market sentiment, however, was undermined by lingering pre-election political concerns and former finance secretary Jose Isidro Camacho's comments in newspapers that the country has plunged into a "fiscal crisis", dealers said.
The composite index closed down 0.48 points, or 0.04 pct, at 1,359.60 on volume of 480.46 mln shares valued at 1.07 bln pesos, boosted by cross and block sales. It traded between 1,355.16 and 1,361.21.
In the broader market, losers led gainers 30 to 24, while 35 stocks were unchanged.
After resigning from President Gloria Arroyo's cabinet last month due to what he said was some "frustration" at his job, Camacho was cited as urging the government to act fast to implement measures to reverse the decline in the country's fiscal health.
Newspapers reported Camacho as saying the government's high debt levels are "not sustainable" and that "the loss in confidence" has raised the government's borrowing costs.
Losses in Philippine Long Distance Telephone and Globe Telecom after recent gains weighed on the market, but gains in property giants Ayala Land and SM Prime Holdings helped limit the market's downside.
At the Philippine Dealing System, the peso averaged 55.407 to the US dollar by noon after closing at 55.370 yesterday.
"Mr. Camacho's comments reminded investors of the country's fiscal and debt problems," Accord Capital Equities analyst Lawrence de Leon said.
Despite some positive developments on the fiscal front in recent months, with the budget deficit below the ceiling as of end-October, he said investors will keenly monitor the country's fiscal performance and the government's debt level after Camacho pushed the alarm button.
De Leon said the sluggish trade in the past few sessions, including today, also indicate that investors are now just "warming the bench and waiting for the year to end."
Dealers said investors have taken shorter-term positions given the uncertain political environment. There could be some window-dressing at this time of the year but they see heavy selling next year in the run-up to the May elections.
Top-traded Ayala Corp was unchanged at 4.90 on volume of 51.78 mln shares, which include cross and block sales. Details about these transactions were not immediately available.
PLDT was down 5.00 at 840 on 138,330 shares.
Globe fell 5.00 to 760 on 78,940 shares.
Ayala Land was up 0.10 at 5.50 on 5.52 mln shares.
SM Prime was up 0.10 6.30 on 4.87 mln shares.
Bank of the Philippine Islands was down 0.50 at 45.50.
Filinvest Land was down 0.02 at 1.02 on 8.34 mln shares.
First Philippine Holdings was up 0.25 at 18, but parent Benpres Holdings was down 0.01 at 0.47 on 3.3 mln shares.
Benpres said its unit Maynilad Water Services Inc and state regulator Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) are now discussing options, including a debt-equity swap, to settle their financial dispute.
The all-shares index was down 2.76 points at 837.84.
The commercial-industrial index fell 2.39 to 2,044.28.
Property rose 5.90 to 539.20, and mining was up 9.54 at 1,643.91.
Oil was down 0.03 at 1.36.
Banking and financial services shed 2.98 to 431.68.
|Japan, Philippines agree to start free trade agreement negotiations - Kyodo|
TOKYO (AFX-ASIA) - Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo agreed today to launch negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) early next year, Kyodo News reported, citing unnamed Japanese officials.
Earlier reports said Japan had also reached agreement today on beginning free trade agreement negotiations with Malaysia and Thailand.
All three agreements were reportedly reached during meetings on the sidelines of a two-day summit in Tokyo between Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Japan has already signed a free trade agreement with Singapore, is in negotiations with Mexico, and begins talks with South Korea on Dec 22 over signing an FTA.
The Philippines has no FTA with any nation.
Japan is already the Philippines' second-largest trading partner after the US, accounting for exports of 814 bln yen and imports of 1.06 trln yen in 2002, Kyodo said.
In describing the sorts of issues likely to dominate the FTA negotiations between Tokyo and Manila, Kyodo noted that the Philippines wants Japan to allow more Filipino professionals, especially nurses and other care givers, to work in Japan.
"So far, Japan has been wary of accepting Filipino medical service workers because it believes opening up would threaten jobs for Japanese or curb pay rises at a time when the Japanese unemployment rate is at record-high levels," the Kyodo report said.
Manila also hopes to increase exports to Japan of tropical fruits such as bananas, pineapples and mangoes, it said.
Japan, for its part, will demand that the Philippines lower tariffs on some industrial products such as automobiles, and liberalize rules pertaining to investment and service industries, the Japanese wire service said.
|Forex - Philippine peso weakens on Camacho's fiscal crisis remark|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The peso lost some ground against the dollar in morning trade after former finance secretary Jose Isidro Camacho reportedly said the government is in a fiscal crisis, dealers said.
At 11.47 am, the peso averaged 55.405 to the US dollar, after trading between 55.370 and 55.430, on volume of 61.6 mln usd. It closed at 55.370 yesterday.
Camacho, who resigned from President Gloria Arroyo's cabinet last month, due to "frustration" at his job, was cited as urging the government to act fast to implement measures to reverse the erosion in the fiscal sector.
Newspapers reported Camacho as saying the government's high debt level is "not sustainable" and that "the loss in confidence" has raised the government's borrowing costs.
"It's certainly not good to hear something like that from a former finance secretary, who has just left the government," a commercial bank dealer said.
"The market is now reacting to that statement in the newspapers."
The dealer, however, sees some inflows as remittances from Filipinos abroad continue to come in to provide support for the peso.
The dealer expects the dollar to be traded in the range of 55.350-55.450 today.
|Manila shares down slightly on consolidation, Camacho's comments|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Share prices were off slightly mid-trade as the market remained in a consolidation phase while testing resistance at the 1, 360-point level, dealers said.
Also affecting investor sentiment was former finance secretary Jose Isidro Camacho's comment, which two Manila newspapers reported, that the Philippines is in "fiscal crisis" after failing to implement much-needed revenue-related reforms, they added.
Dealers said pre-election political worries also persist, limiting year-end window-dressing activity in the market.
At 10.45 am, the composite index was down 3.48 points, or 0.026 pct, at 1, 356.60 on volume of 220.97 mln shares valued at 352.38 mln pesos. So far, it has traded between 1,356.02 and 1,360.16.
In the broader market, losers outnumbered gainers 23 to 7, while 32 stocks were unchanged.
"I think Camacho's comment is preventing the market from rising (or even) staying above the 1,360-level," Westlink Global Equities chairman Rommel Macapagal said.
"Coming from a former finance secretary, the comments may have caused some apprehension among investors."
Camacho resigned from President Gloria Arroyo's cabinet last month, citing some "frustration" at his job.
Losses in Philippine Long Distance Telephone after recent gains weighed on the market, but gains in Ayala Land helped limit the market's downside.
PLDT was down 10 at 835 on 64,300 shares.
Ayala Land was up 0.10 at 5.50 on 917,000 shares.
At the Philippine Dealing System, the peso averaged 55.396 to the US dollar after closing at 55.370 yesterday.
|Philippines' Benpres says Maynilad, MWSS in talks to settle debt dispute|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Benpres Holdings Corp said its unit Maynilad Water Services Inc and state regulator Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) are now discussing options to settle their financial dispute.
Benpres and the Ondeo Group, majority shareholders of Maynilad, as well as the MWSS "have commenced good faith discussions for the possible settlement of pending controversies between MWSS and Maynilad," Benpres told the stock exchange.
"The discussion, while very preliminary, are comprehensive and consider all possible options, including the idea of a debt-equity swap."
Benpres did not give further details, saying that any agreement will become final only when all appropriate approvals from the government are obtained.
The disclosure followed a newspaper report yesterday saying that the government and the Lopez group, through Benpres, have begun discussions on the possibility of a bailout for Maynilad.
The report, citing unidentified sources, said that the government could acquire 30 pct of Maynilad for 20 mln usd through a debt-swap agreement with the MWSS.
Maynilad's rehabilitation receiver earlier asked a lower court to prevent the MWSS from tapping the company's 120 mln usd performance bond. This was after the court granted Maynilad's plea for debt relief by issuing a stay order in the enforcement of all claims by creditors against the company and its guarantors.
Maynilad sought debt relief after the International Arbitration Court had ruled that the water supplier, which decided in late 2002 to pre-terminate its concession with the government, should pay MWSS 6.77 bln pesos in concession fees.
The arbitration panel also ruled that Maynilad must maintain its 25-year concession agreement to supply drinkable water to parts of metropolitan Manila.
The panel also allowed MWSS to draw on Maynilad's 120 mln usd performance bond, which it put up on winning the concession a few years back.
Benpres guarantees 60 pct of the bond and the Ondeo group 40 pct.
(1 usd = 55.40 pesos)
|Matsushita Electric Philippines appoints new president/chairman|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Matsushita Electric Philippines Corp announced the election of Seiichi Fukami as its new president and chairman of the board effective Dec 15.
He will replace Yukiharu Kubota, whose resignation takes effect Dec 15.
|Philippines' Fortune Cement to merge with unit, pay convertible notes|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Fortune Cement Corp said its board of directors has approved its plan to merge with unit Premier Cement Corp and settle two loans totalling 2.6 bln pesos.
Fortune Cement told the stock exchange that the merger with its unit "will simplify the legal structure and promote significant cost efficiency improvements, such as use of substantial spare equipment and machinery by the (surviving) company, single statutory audit and reportorial requirements."
Fortune Cement, which is the surviving entity, said the merger will not involve the issuance of shares.
The company's directors also approved the payment of a convertible loan note amounting to 475 mln pesos, issued on Feb 19, 1999, and another convertible loan note of 2.125 bln pesos by conversion into Fortune Cement common shares.
The conversion price is pegged at 3.00 pesos per common share, to be issued out of the company's unissued capital stock.
Fortune Cement's board also approved the issuance of 708.33 mln common shares out of its unissued capital stock to Republic Cement Corp, the holder of the convertible loan note issued in Feb 1999.
(1 usd = 55.37 pesos)
|Philippines' Arroyo approves 'open skies' policy in Subic, Clark - report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - President Gloria Arroyo has signed Executive Order No. 253, which enforces an "open skies" policy for cargoes in Subic Freeport Zone and Clark Special Economic Zone.
BusinessWorld newspaper reported, citing the order, which removed restrictions on the number of flights and on the type of aircraft used by cargo carriers flying in and out of Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark and the Subic Bay International Airport.
The order will take effect 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.
|Philippines' ex-finance chief Camacho says government in fiscal crisis -report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Former finance secretary Jose Isidro Camacho has warned the country is now in a "fiscal crisis" as a result of its failure to implement crucial revenue reforms, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
Camacho, who was President Gloria Arroyo's finance chief for several months, was quoted as saying that the government's high debt level "is not sustainable" and that borrowing costs for the government have increased "because of the loss in confidence."
Camacho resigned from Arroyo's cabinet last month, citing "frustration (that) comes with the job."
Before announcing his resignation, the Department of Finance released the October fiscal figures, which showed the budget deficit at 21.172 bln pesos, lower than the ceiling of 22.333 bln, thanks to higher revenue collection during the month.
In the 10 months to October, the deficit reached 163.875 bln pesos, below the ceiling of 171.88 bln.
Camacho, who spoke before the Philippine Economic Society, said the government must act fast and implement revenue measures that would help reverse the erosion in the fiscal sector.
A number of fiscal measures have been proposed to Congress, but with the May elections drawing near, lawmakers, some of whom are expected to seek re-election, are unlikely to pay much attention to those proposals.
(1 usd = 55.37 pesos)
|Philippine govt considers rice import liberalization - report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The government plans to eliminate controls on rice imports and adopt a "free-for-all" policy allowing the entry of imported rice in unlimited volumes, the Philippine Star reported, citing Agriculture Secretary Luis Lorenzo Jr.
He said that President Gloria Arroyo "wants as much as possible to lift the limits imposed on rice imports such as volume restrictions."
|Philippine Nat'l Bank eyes Latin America for remittance business - report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine National Bank (PNB) plans to penetrate the Latin American market to boost its remittance business, and has started talks with a Mexican group for a possible tie-up, the Philippine Star reported.
The report quoted Jose Vicente Cuison, special assistant to the PNB president, as saying that the bank is now positioning itself in the 32 bln usd Latin American market possibly by forging tie-ups with that region's financial groups.
PNB currently operates remittance centers in the US, Canada, Singapore and Hong Kong.
"The Mexican group is keenly interested in how we handle remittances and even our labor development program here," Cuison said, without identifying the group.
|India's Global Infrastructure hikes offer for Philippines' National Steel|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Indian firm Global Infrastructure Holdings Ltd has increased its up-front payment offer for the rehabilitation and operation of the Philippines' National Steel Corp (NSC) to 1.0 bln pesos from 655 mln, the Philippine Star reported.
The report quoted Land Bank of the Philippines president Margarito Teves as saying that Global Infrastructure was willing to pay 1.0 bln pesos up-front, and that the new offer was now being discussed by NSC creditors, which include LandBank.
Global Infrastructure in reportedly now willing to pay a total of 12.25 bln pesos for the debt-saddled NSC's re-opening, up from its previous price offer of 11.905 bln.
(1 usd = 55.37 pesos)
|Philippines economic and corporate news summary QSK93|
BEIJING (AFX-ASIA) - A summary of Philippine economic and corporate news at 0500 GMT
-President accepts Trade Secretary Roxas' resignation
-Treasury to auction 3.5 bln pesos 7-year zero-coupon T-bonds Dec 16l
-Budget chief Boncodin rules out expenditure 'front-loading' in 2004
-Philippines to double terminal fees for domestic flights at Manila airport
-Movie star proclaimed opposition presidential candidate
-Philippine National Bank 2003 net profit goal of 150 mln peso achievable - CEO
-Philippine National Bank clarifies Oct net profit at 6.0 mln pesos
-Philippine National Bank posts 44 mln net loss in Oct
-Napocor awards 1.5 bln peso fuel supply contracts to Petron
-Napocor declares failed bidding for transfer of diesel power plant
-Court approves Primetown Property's petition for rehabilitation
-Fil-Hispano, All-Asia Customer Services sign MoA for due diligence
-Govt extends Aboitiz unit's power supply franchise by 180 days
-Security Bank confirms 2.5 bln pesos debt offer in January jj/rc AFN
|Philippine govt extends Aboitiz unit's power supply franchise by 180 days|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The government has granted Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV) unit Visayan Electric Company (Veco) a 180-day extension to its power distribution franchise in Cebu and Mandaue cities in the central Philippines, the Department of Energy (DOE) said.
The government, through the National Electrification Commission (NEC), has extended Veco's franchise, which expired on December 8. The franchise may also be extended for a further 25 years from December 8, if Veco's major shareholders agree to settle their dispute over the stakes in the company.
"The NEC has become aware of the serious dispute which has arisen... between the two major shareholders of Veco. The commission has consistently expressed its deep concern over the potential detrimental effect of such a dispute on the management, operations and investment policies of Veco as a distribution utility responsible for delivering power service in the area," the DOE quoted the NEC as having said in its decision.
It said the NEC considers the franchise extension as "very crucial" because of the growing power supply shortage in the Cebu-Negros-Panay grid in the Visayas.
Energy Secretary Vincent Perez urged Veco's major shareholders to resolve their dispute and address the power supply problems facing the utility's customers.
AEV earlier said it filed a 613 mln peso suit against Vivant Corp (formerly Philstar.com) for the alleged dilution of Aboitiz's shares in Veco.
AEV complained about the dissolution of Hijos de F Escano, a private holding company with controlling shareholdings in Veco as its principal assets, through a share-swap agreement with Vivant.
Hijos is majority owned by the Garcia family, which also owns Vivant. Aboitiz holds a 46 pct stake in Hijos.
Under the share-swap deal, Vivant acquired about 2.09 mln Veco shares from Hijos in exchange for Vivant shares.
In its complaint, the Aboitiz group said the Veco shares were traded at book value, while the Vivant shares were valued at a premium to book value. The effect of such valuations was to reduce the interest of minority shareholders in Veco.
(1 usd = 55.37 pesos)
|Philippines' movie star proclaimed opposition presidential candidate|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - A coalition of opposition parties today formally declared former actor Fernando Poe, the "king of Philippine movies", as their candidate to challenge President Gloria Arroyo in next May's elections, Agence France Presse reported.
At a meeting in Manila, the Coalition of United Filipinos (KNP) handed the 64-year old political novice his first official party endorsement since he announced his candidacy last month.
"You just don't know how I feel today," Poe told KNP leaders by speaker phone from an undisclosed location.
"In the coming days, I will inform you of my response," he said, his voice quavering with emotion.
Poe's de facto campaign manager Senator Vicente Sotto, a former movie comedian, said that Poe will later formally accept the nomination.
The KNP includes Fight for a Democratic Philippines (LDP), the main opposition party, the Party of the Democratic Philippines (PDP-Laban), and the Force for the Filipino Masses (PMP).
PMP is made up of supporters of his close friend, ousted president Joseph Estrada, another former movie star.
Former senator Juan Ponce Enrile said the coalition chose Poe, a high-school drop-out with no experience in public service, because of "his patriotism and humanity, his sterling leadership and success in the movie industry".
Enrile, who headed a candidate selection committee, also cited "the trust, respect and confidence he commands from the general public," as well as recent surveys putting him at the top of presidential aspirants ahead of Arroyo.
Presidential hopeful, opposition Senator Gregorio Honasan, today removed a hurdle for Poe by giving up his own election aspirations to back the man regarded as the "John Wayne" of the Philippines.
A November survey by respected research group, Social Weather Stations showed Poe and broadcaster-Senator Noli de Castro leading the candidates with former Senator Raul Roco in third place, Arroyo in fourth and former police chief Senator Panfilo Lacson fifth.
As he has yet to reveal his campaign platform, opposition leaders point as much to Poe's on-screen character as they do his own to justify his candidacy.
Over more than 50 years of movie-making he is best known for his roles as pure-hearted, mild-mannered heroes who only fought back when pushed too far.
Poe's strong showing in polls has worried the business community, however.
His candidacy led to sharp drops in the currency and stock markets as investors saw too many similarities with the ill-fated presidency of Estrada, another movie star who was elected in 1998 but who was ousted in a popular uprising in 2001.
|Philippines' Napocor awards 1.5 bln peso fuel supply contracts to Petron|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - State-owned National Power Corp (Napocor) said it has awarded 1.5 bln pesos worth of fuel supply contracts to oil refiner Petron Corp.
Petron will supply the fuel for Napocor's Bataan combined-cycle power plant, worth about 947.0 mln pesos, and the Subic diesel power plant, worth 132.4 mln pesos.
Petron has also won fuel supply contracts worth 397.0 mln pesos for three other Napocor facilities.
Napocor said it also awarded a 235.0 mln peso fuel supply contract to Petron's competitor Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp.
It did not specify the contracts' periods.
(1 usd = 55.343 pesos)
|Philippine National Bank sees 2003 net profit target achievable - UPDATE|
(Updating with 2004 targets)
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Philippine National Bank (PNB) is confident of meeting its 2003 net profit target of 150.0 mln pesos, president and chief executive officer Lorenzo Tan said.
"The 2003 net profit target is achievable," he told reporters.
He said next year's net profit is expected to hit 200.0 mln pesos, supported by modest loan growth of 5.0 pct.
The bank plans to bring down its non-performing loans (NPL) ratio to 30.0 pct by end-2004 from a target of 37.0 pct by the end of this year, mainly through loan restructuring.
"A lot of the big ticket items will be restructured next year, including the loans to National Steel Corp and the Citra group," he said.
The restructuring of these loans will help bring down PNB's total NPLs by about 16.3 bln pesos, he said.
The bank, which is equally-owned by the government and businessman Lucio Tan, said earlier today it had posted a net profit of 6.0 mln pesos in October and 133.0 mln in the ten months to October.
The bank, which had posted losses in previous years, said earlier that it sustained its recovery in the first nine months of the year on the back of improved net interest margins, higher fee-based gains and a reduction in operating expenses.
It has also disposed of some of its assets to raise revenue.
Tan said PNB has delayed its planned notes issue of up to 140.0 mln usd, aim ed at raising its Tier 2 capital, until the first quarter of 2004. It had previously intended to issue the notes last month.
The bank is waiting for market conditions to improve before issuing the notes, he added.
(1 usd = 55.343 pesos)
|Philippine court approves Primetown Property's petition for rehabilitation|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Primetown Property Group's petition for rehabilitation has won approval from a regional trial court, which ordered the receiver to study and evaluate the company's rehabilitation plan.
"From the pleadings, comments of creditors and other documents thus far presented, the Court finds the petition to be with merit. Petitioner presented sufficient basis for the petition to be given due course and for the rehabilitation plan to be evaluated by the receiver for appropriate favorable recommendation," Judge Sixto Marella Jr of branch 138 of the Makati City regional trial court said in his order.
Earlier, the court stopped the enforcement of all claims against Primetown Property Group Inc following its petition to be placed under rehabilitation.
The company earlier reported a net loss of 335.56 mln pesos for 2002 on revenue of 110.677 mln pesos, and costs and expenses of 446.016 mln.
(1 usd = 55.34 pesos)
|Philippine budget chief Boncodin rules out expenditure 'front-loading' in 2004|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin said the government will not resort to "front-loading" of expenditures in the early part of 2004, as the Arroyo administration will maintain fiscal discipline.
"There will be no front-loading next year. We are maintaining fiscal discipline," she told reporters.
The past few years saw the government paying a significant portion of its obligations to suppliers and contractors, which have accumulated and reached billions of pesos, during the first half of the year.
The fiscal authorities argued that the settlement of these accounts payable should benefit the economy as more liquidity is poured into the private sector.
Boncodin, however, reiterated that concerns about possible overspending by the government in 2004 are unfounded even if it is an election year.
Meanwhile, she agreed that the November budget deficit was likely within target, boosting the government's confidence that this year's deficit will be within the 202-bln peso goal.
Government spending last month was kept "under control," she added.
Finance Secretary Juanita Amatong earlier said the government managed to keep its November budget deficit below the 17.8-bln peso ceiling due to its better-than-expected tax collection during the month.
(1 usd = 55.343 pesos)
|Philippine President accepts Trade Secretary Roxas' resignation|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - President Gloria Arroyo has accepted the resignation of Trade and Industry Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who will run in the May 2004 election as a senatorial candidate of the ruling administration's party.
Roxas told a news conference that the President had accepted his resignation and had wished him lack on his next political endeavor. He said his intention to return to the legislative branch of government was known to Arroyo months before his resignation.
His resignation takes effect today and Trade and Industry Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr was appointed the Acting Secretary. Roxas said Arroyo has spoken to a member of the business community to take on the Trade and Industry portfolio permanently.
Roxas was a member and majority floor leader of the House of Representatives during the administration of former President Joseph Estrada before becoming Trade and Industry Secretary and concurrent member of the central bank's Monetary Board.
"Thank you, Madame President, for the honor and opportunity you gave me to serve our people. It has been a difficult time for our country and I appreciate very much your allowing me to contribute to her well-being," Roxas said in his resignation letter.
"I look forward to continue serving the country with you as I join your team in seeking the people's mandate in 2004."
"I think it is a good idea to (tender my resignation) now. I consulted the President and she agreed. It allows me to concentrate in preparing for the campaign," Roxas said.
Cabinet members who wish to run in the 2004 election have until January 2 to tender their resignations.
|Philippines to double terminal fees for domestic flights at Manila airport|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Terminal fees for domestic flights from Manila airport will double starting next month but charges for international routes will remain unchanged, Agence France Presse reported, quoting airport manager Edgardo Manda.
From Jan 1, passengers flying out of Manila airport to other points in the country will have to pay 200 pesos.
The international charge remains unchanged at 550 pesos.
Manda said the fee increase will bring in an extra 230 mln pesos each year which will be used to help the airport pay maturing debts.
(1 usd = 55.343 pesos)
|Philippine National Bank 2003 net profit goal of 150 mln peso achievable - CEO|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Philippine National Bank is confident of meeting its 2003 net profit target of 150 mln pesos, PNB president and chief executive officer Lorenzo Tan said.
"The 2003 net profit target is achievable," he told reporters.
The bank, which is equally-owned by the government and businessman Lucio Tan, earlier today said it booked a net profit of 6.0 mln pesos in October and 133 mln in the 10 months to October.
The bank, which posted losses in previous years, earlier said it sustained its recovery in the first nine months of the year on the back of improved net interest margins, higher fee-based gains and a reduction in operating expenses.
It has also disposed of some of its idle assets to raise revenue.
Tan said PNB delayed its planned notes issue of up to 140 mln usd, to raise tier 2 capital, until the first quarter of 2004. The previous plan was to issue the notes last month.
The bank is waiting for market conditions to improve before issuing the notes, he added.
(1 usd = 55.343 pesos)
|Manila shares close mixed on consolidation|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Share prices closed mixed after a sluggish session as the market began to consolidate after recent gains, dealers said.
The market traded with a negative bias, in line with Wall Street's decline last night, after a coalition of political opposition parties endorsed action movie star Fernando Poe as their candidate in the 2004 presidential race.
The composite index closed down 5.75 points or 0.42 pct at 1,360.08 on 406.65 mln shares worth 447.51 mln pesos. It traded between 1,359.22 and 1, 366.30.
Gainers beat losers 35 to 31, with 40 stocks unchanged.
The market is expected to consolidate further next week in the absence of fresh leads, dealers said.
"Investors are on a wait-and-see, watching how politics will be playing in the coming days," Summit Securities president Harry Liu said.
The political opposition has been headed for a split after two fractions of the group endorsed the candidacies of movie star Fernando Poe Jr and Senator Panfilo Lacson as their presidential bets.
They would be running against President Gloria Arroyo and former Senator Raul Roco.
Trade and Industry Secretary Manuel Roxas, a senior economic adviser of Arroyo, has reportedly tendered his resignation given his intention to seek an elective post in the 2004 election. Roxas is also a member of the central bank's policy-making Monetary Board.
Dealers however said Roxas' resignation has been widely expected and as such did not weigh heavily on today's trade.
"The market traded listlessly after trading higher in previous days, and with the fact that investors are now on pre-holiday mood, there wasn't much activity," Accord Capital Equities analyst Ron Rodrigo said.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone was top-traded, ending flat at 845 on 261,690 shares after early gains.
Globe ended flat at 765 on 66,470 shares.
Ayala Corp was down 0.10 at 4.90 on volume of 5.52 mln shares, while unit Ayala Land shed 0.10 to 5.40 on 1.77 mln shares.
Bank of the Philippine Islands gained 0.50 pesos to 46.00 529,100 shares.
First Holdings was down 0.25 at 17.75 on 651,800 shares.
Meralco B, open to foreigners, was flat at 23.50, while Meralco was steady at 14.75.
The all-shares index was down 12.77 points at 840.60.
The commercial-industrial index shed 9.75 to 2,046.67.
Property was down 3.57 at 533.30.
Mining was down 26.73 at 1,634.37.
Oil was up 0.02 at 1.39.
Banking and financial services gained 2.14 to 434.66.
(1 usd = 55.344 pesos)
|Forex - Philippine peso weaker on dollar demand by oil companies|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The peso was slightly weaker in late morning trade on US dollar-buying by oil companies, dealers said.
They said the peso was rangebound, with news of Trade Secretary Manuel Roxas II's widely-expected resignation from President Gloria Arroyo's cabinet and the US Federal Reserve's move last night to keep key interest rates unchanged having no impact on the market.
At 11.27 am, the peso averaged 55.344 to the dollar after trading between 55.320 and 55.370 on volume of 32.5 mln usd. It closed at 55.315 yesterday.
"The oil companies are buying dollars this morning," a commercial bank dealer said.
"But the peso is just moving (within a) trading range since the news on Roxas has been expected, and this, along with the Fed move, has no bearing on currency trading."
Roxas is expected to announce his resignation today as he prepares to run for office in May, one of his aides said.
He may run for senator, or as the running mate of Arroyo, who will seek a full term.
|Philippine Treasury to auction 3.5 bln pesos 7-year zero-coupon T-bonds Dec 16|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Bureau of Treasury will auction 3.5 bln pesos worth of seven-year, zero-coupon T-bonds on Dec 16 to meet the demand of government-owned and controlled corporations for alternative investment instruments, National Treasurer Sergio Edeza said.
Edeza, in a memorandum to banks, said the bonds, which will mature in 2010, will be subject to a 20.0 pct withholding tax.
He said the Treasury had decided to issue the bonds, despite its earlier decision to cancel all regular T-bills and T-bond auctions this month, following persistent demand from government-led firms.
Proceeds from the auction will be used to finance its remaining funding requirements for the year, he said.
Edeza said the government's cash position, which currently stands at 92.0 bln pesos, will be reduced to 40.0 bln pesos by the end of the year due to debt repayments scheduled before the end of the year.
"We're looking at a free cash flow position of 40.0 bln pesos by year-end, " Edeza told reporters.
(1 usd = 55.344 pesos)
|STOCK ALERT - Philippines' PLDT firmer on window-dressing among investors|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co was firmer in mid-trade as investors continue to buy the stock to window-dress portfolios ahead of next year, dealers said.
In addition, expectations of a robust full-year net profit has kept on generating positive sentiment for the country's largest telecoms firm.
However, PLDT is near its overbought level with resistance set at 860 pesos, they said, adding profit-taking is expected to take place at any time.
PLDT was top-traded and up 5 pesos at 850 on 40,400 shares.
Its American Depositary Receipts in New York closed up 0.08 usd at 14.95 last night.
(1 usd = 55.315 pesos)
|Philippine trade secretary Roxas to resign today, run in 2004 poll|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Trade and Industry Secretary and concurrent Monetary Board member Manuel Roxas II is to announce today his resignation from President Gloria Arroyo's cabinet to stand in elections next May, one of his aides told AFX-Asia.
Roxas, a former congressman and House of Representatives majority floor leader, has been planning to run for senator, the aide said.
He is also on the list of possible running mates for Arroyo, who will seek a full term in May.
The presidential palace is considering Oscar Orbos, a former executive secretary and transportation secretary during the Aquino administration, as Roxas's replacement, political sources said.
|Philippine National Bank clarifies Oct net profit at 6.0 mln pesos|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine National Bank said it posted a net profit of 6.0 mln pesos in October, the lowest level it registered for any month this year.
In a disclosure to the stock exchange, the bank said its 10 months to October net profit stood at 133 mln pesos, or 17 mln short of its projected full-year net profit of 150 mln pesos.
The bank, in a preliminary report to the central bank, however reported incurring a net loss of 44 mln pesos in October due to higher provisions for probable loan losses and tax payments during the period.
Its 10 months to October net profit stood at 83 mln pesos due to better earnings since the start of the year, it told the central bank.
The bank said in its report that it set aside in October more than 40 mln pesos for probable loan losses and 20 mln for tax payments, effectively wiping out its projected 30 mln net profit during the month.
(1 usd = 55.315 pesos)
|FOCUS-Arroyo the underdog as Philippine election season begins next week|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - President Gloria Arroyo will be an unlikely underdog when the Philippines election season officially begins next week with at least three challengers registering their candidacies alongside hers.
The 56-year-old grandmother trails in opinion polls with movie icon Fernando Poe on top, five months before the May 10, 2004 contest.
Arroyo's aides said better economic growth, a divided opposition and police success in destroying kidnap gangs preying on businessmen would help her overhaul film star Poe, the Philippine answer to "John Wayne" and better known as just "FPJ".
Another contender, Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former police chief, refuses to back Poe despite having fallen far behind in the surveys.
Former vice-president Arroyo replaced movie star president Joseph Estrada after a military-backed popular revolt in Jan 2001.
She survived a military rebellion in July, the lowest point in a troubled interim leadership where significant numbers of Filipinos refused to recognize her as president.
Arroyo has staked her political future on helping the US in its global war on terror, as well as on market reforms to revive an economy that drifted during Estrada's unorthodox rule.
Forty million Filipinos, hundreds of thousands of them working abroad, could vote in the elections, in which Arroyo will seek a popular mandate.
It will be the first presidential contest since the 1998 Asian crisis, when an embittered urban underclass swept college dropout Estrada to power.
For the first time, computers will count votes, replacing a cumbersome manual system with high hopes it will stifle fraud and violence.
Like his friend Estrada, Poe is popular among the poor who make up the majority of Filipinos. But the prospect of a second movie star president has rattled financial markets.
Vice-President Teofisto Guingona insists Poe, a political neophyte and also a high school dropout, may surprise critics as long as he avoids the kind of advice that doomed Estrada, now on trial for corruption.
"FPJ has this election won unless he finds a way to lose it," said former senator and Estrada spokesman Ernesto Maceda.
He urged Poe to avoid becoming over-confident and to build a party machinery and explain his political platform to investors.
Comparing voting to baking a cake, pollster Mahar Mangahas of Social Weather Stations cautions that voters "are still mixing the dough" and Poe's support remains soft.
The electorate will make up their mind in early May, he added.
"There will be so much time left for people to put together better campaigns, more efficient ways of dealing with how to get the electorate to see their principle as the better one," agreed pollster Felipe Miranda of Pulse Asia Inc.
"The administration cannot be taken for granted because it has the preponderance of resources and government infrastructure to help in its campaign," said veteran election strategist Tony Gatmaitan.
The registration of candidates will be from Dec 15 to Jan 2 but campaigning is allowed only from February.
Arroyo has made almost daily provincial sorties, speaking to large crowds since October, when she changed her mind about retiring next year.
Victory would give her six more years to solve sprawling poverty, decades-old Muslim separatist and communist insurgencies, and the new threat of terrorism.
Another serious contender with the potential to hobble Arroyo's bid is ex-senator Raul Roco. He quit the Arroyo cabinet last year after rejecting corruption allegations.
Arroyo spokesman Alex Magno said the president and Roco are "headstrong personalities with little love lost for each other.
"It will be a tough challenge to convince one to yield to the other -- even if we plead the survival of a modernizing sort of democracy for our country."
|Philippines' Security Bank confirms 2.5 bln pesos debt offer in January|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Security Bank Corp confirmed it will offer 2.5 bln pesos in subordinated notes in the second week of January to raise Tier 2 capital.
In a disclosure, the bank said the central bank has approved the pre-selling of the issue. As such, the bank has conducted a series of roadshows for potential investors in the provinces of Cebu and Davao and in metropolitan Manila.
ING Bank NV is the lead arranger of the offering.
Multinational Investment Bancorporation and BDO Capital will act as the bank's selling agents.
(1 usd = 55.315 pesos)
|Philippine Fil-Hispano, All-Asia Customer Services sign MoA for due diligence|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Fil-Hispano Holdings Corp (FPHC) said it has signed a memorandum of agreement with All-Asia Customer Service Holdings Ltd (ACSH) to conduct due diligence for the possible acquisition of the latter's local call center business.
After the due diligence, the parties may enter into an agreement for ACSH's acquisition of a controlling interest in FPHC in exchange for FPHC's acquisition of ACSH's call center business.
"The acquisition of controlling interest may require FPHC to increase its authorized capital stock to up to 600 mln pesos," FPHC said in a disclosure to the stock exchange.
No further details were provided.
(1 usd = 55.315 pesos)
|Philippine National Bank posts 44 mln net loss in Oct|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine National Bank (PNB) said it incurred a net loss of 44 mln pesos in October due to higher provisions for probable loan losses and tax payments during the period.
Its 10 months to October net profit stood at 83 mln pesos due to better earnings since the start of the year.
The bank set aside in October more than 40 mln pesos for probable loan losses and 20 mln for tax payments, effectively wiping out its projected 30 mln net profit during the month.
Earlier, PNB reported a net profit of 127 mln pesos in the nine months to September, exceeding its full-year target of 100 mln and turning around from the 1.52 bln net loss in the same period last year.
The bank sustained its recovery on the back of improved net interest margin, higher fee-based gains and a reduction in operating expenses, PNB president and chief executive officer Lorenzo Tan said.
(1 usd = 55.315 pesos)
|Philippine Napocor declares failed bidding for transfer of diesel power plant|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The state-run National Power Corp said its bid failed to find a contractor for the transfer of a 110-megawatt diesel power plant from the province of Batangas to Iloilo in central Philippines and the company is now negotiating a deal with construction firm DM Consunji Inc.
All offers exceeded the budget of 535 mln pesos, but the group of DM Consunji submitted the lowest bid price of 664 mln pesos, a Napocor official, who requested anonymity, said.
The contractor will handle the dismantling, hauling and installation of the Batangas generator sets to Iloilo in Panay Island, which is expected to suffer a power shortage in the coming months as electricity demand exceeds supply.
(1 usd = 55.315 pesos)
|Philippines' Oilink International to list on stock exchange - report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Oil trading firm Oilink International Corp, an affiliate of Unioil Petroleum Philippines Inc, will debut on the Philippine Stock Exchange, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported, quoting unnamed sources.
The report said the company intends to offer as much as 33 pct of its shares to the public to raise more than 200 mln pesos, proceeds of which will be used to expand its distribution capabilities.
"There's a plan to list publicly, but as to the time and how much shares will be offered, there's nothing final yet," its legal counsel Lawrence Luang said.
The report said Abacus Capital and Investment Corp will underwrite the initial public offering. (1 usd = 55.315 pesos)
|Philippines' Primex to convert 100 mln preferred shares into common shares|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Real estate firm Primex Corp said its board of directors has approved the conversion of 100 mln preferred shares into common shares at a rate of one common share for every preferred share held, effective tomorrow.
The company's board also approved the payment of three years and two months cumulative dividends on the preferred shares, amounting to 15.83 mln pesos, in the form of common shares with a value of 2.50 pesos each, in lieu of cash.
The company told the stock exchange that the listing and trading of the converted common shares will take effect one trading day after the company has complied with the exchange's post-approval requirements.
(1 usd = 55.315)
|Fraport confirms was raided in connection with Manila airport terminal project|
FRANKFURT (AFX) - Frankfurt airport operator Fraport AG said it was raided by the Frankfurt state prosecutor yesterday, confirming a report in daily Bild-Zeitung today.
A Fraport spokesman said the company has not been sued and he is not aware of any allegations against the company by the state prosecutor.
"The Frankfurt state prosecutor has raided offices in different departments of Fraport AG to find evidence in connection with the terminal project in Manila," Fraport said in a statement.
The spokesman said he is not able to give any further details.
He could not confirm that former chief financial officer Johannes Endler is suspected of bribery and embezzlement, as reported by Bild-Zeitung.
A consortium under the leadership of Fraport and the Philippine International Air Terminals Co (PIATCO) built a new terminal at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport for 350 mln eur between 2000-2002.
Fraport was supposed to operate the terminal for 25 years, but the Philippine government declared the contract null and void in 2002 and the terminal has never been put into operation, Fraport said. Fraport is suing the Philippine government for compensation.
The Philippine government justified its decision with, among other things, unspecified irregularities, Fraport said.
The Fraport spokesman was not able to say whether yesterday's raid was in connection with these charges, but that Fraport will do all it can to investigate possible irregularities.
|Philippine Nov motor vehicle sales down 2.9 pct yr/yr, Jan-Nov up 11.1 pct|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine motor vehicle sales in November fell 2.9 pct to 6,860 units from 7,068 in the same month last year, data from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers (CAMPI) and the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) showed.
In the January-November period, sales rose 11.1 pct year-on-year to 82, 815 units from 74,508.
The local automotive industry needs to sell about 8,200 units this month to reach its 2003 target of 91,000 units, or 5.0 pct higher than the 86,718 units sold last year.
Sales of commercial vehicles, which account for 75 pct of the market, grew 14.3 pct to 62,619 units in the 11 months to November.
Toyota Motor Philippines Corp led sales during the 11-month period on 25, 270 units, with Honda Cars Philippines Inc and Mitsubishi Philippines Corp next in that order on 13,984 and 13,922 units, respectively.
|Philippines PNOC unit to seek 120 mln usd JBIC loan to fund geothermal project|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - PNOV Energy Development Corp (PNOC-EDC) said it will apply for a 120 mln usd loan from Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to finance its 60-megawatt Southern Leyte Geothermal Development Project.
PNOC-EDC, a unit of state-owned Philippine National Oil Co, submitted the project proposal to the National Economic and Development Authority for approval three to four months ago, said PNOC-EDC chairman and president Sergio Apostol.
Apostol said the project is intended to boost power supply in Bohol province in the central Philippines.
He said the project, which will take at least four years to complete, will involve the development of a steamfield and the construction of a power plant.
(1 usd = 55.286 pesos)
|Philippines' Nov BIR collections 42.25 bln pesos, exceeds target|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Bureau of Internal Revenue said it collected a total of 42.25 bln pesos in November, exceeding its target of 41.309 bln.
However, its 11 months to November collections was 0.22 pct short of its target of 388.58 bln pesos.
"The bureau is doing everything to meet its December monthly target. Should this be achieved, the bureau will have effected the complete turnaround of the tax effort ratio's five-year downtrend, putting it in an elite group of international tax administrations that have succeeded in recovering from prolonged decline in revenue performance," the BIR said in a preliminary report on its November performance.
Department of Finance officer-in-charge Juanita Amatong earlier said the government had managed to keep its November budget deficit below the 17.8-bln peso ceiling due to its better-than-expected tax collection during the month.
Initial estimates showed that the budget deficit for November stood at 14. 0 bln pesos, or 4.0 bln lower than the limit.
(1 usd = 55.30 pesos)
|Philippine Treasury raises 31.548 bln pesos from 3-year retail bond issue|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Bureau of Treasury said it has raised a total of 31.548 bln pesos from the sale of 3-year Retail Treasury Bonds (RTBs), more than the target issue size of 30 bln.
Subscriptions received by selling agents during the public offer totalled 29.52 bln pesos, while 1.56 bln were sold to banks through a Dutch auction held on Nov 27. The Bureau sold 0.468 bln pesos worth of the bonds through its over-the-counter window.
The RTBs carried a coupon rate of 10.00 pct, with interest to be paid on a quarterly basis.
The oversubscription has prompted the Treasury to cancel the Treasury bills and bonds auction scheduled this month.
(1 usd = 55.286 pesos)