Monday, November 24, 2003
Philippine-govt approved investments up 22.0 pct year-on-year Jan-Oct
Philippine Republic Cement approves conversion of loan to Fortune into equity
Philippine T-bill rates rise, 364-day bids rejected
Manila shares close flat on Camacho resignation, politics
Forex-Philippine peso at 34-month intra-day low on Camacho resignation
Philippines leader says capital punishment will not stop kidnappings - report
Philippine Premiere Entertainment,NMI shareholders approve future subscription
Philippines' First Metro Investment Corp div 26.52 pesos per share
Philippines' Oct tourist arrivals up 11.3 pct yr-on-yr
Philippines' Globe, Digitel reach interim agreement with US MCI on call rates
Philippine central bank sees Nov CPI up 3.5 pct yr-on-yr vs 3.1 pct in Oct
Philipine banks end-September NPL ratio 14.49 pct vs 14.96 pct in August
China warns Philippines over visit by high level Taiwanese delegation
Enraged Chinese-Filipinos demand justice as kidnappings escalate
Popular actor and Estrada ally to run for Philippine presidency - report
Chinese-Filipino traders seized in latest kidnapping in Philippines
Japan to start free trade talks with Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia:
Philippines' Arroyo says reforms to continue despite official's resignation
Filipinos must learn to speak Japanese to get more investment - survey
Prime Gaming Philippines' board approves buy-back of 5.5 mln shares
Philippine Finance Secretary resigns,Treasurer Edeza to quit
Friday, November 20, 2003
Manila shares close mixed on Wall St fall, security concerns
CORRECTION-Singapore's KLW unit expands in Malaysia; looks at 3 more countries
Forex - Philippine peso slightly weaker on security concerns
Angry ethnic Chinese-Filipinos to protest against kidnap terror
Philippines' PCI Leasing buys back 818,000 shares on Nov 20
ALERT - Philippine PLDT firmer early on bargain-hunting, ADRs gains
Malaysia's Idaman to expand insurance ops in Indonesia, Philippines - report
Philippine Stock Exchange to implement listing by way of introduction on Dec 5
Philippine Maynilad receiver asks court to stop MWSS from tapping bond-report
Philippine Meralco unlikely to get ERC rate hike approval this year - report
Philippine govt end-Sept total debt 3.195 trln pesos vs 3.158 trln in Aug
Philippine central bank keeps policy interest rates unchanged
Philippines' Digitel to issue 31.11 mln usd zero coupon convertible bonds
November 19 -
November 17 - 18
November 13 - 14
November 11 - 12
November 7 - 10
November 5 - 6
November 3 - 4
|Philippine-govt approved investments up 22.0 pct year-on-year Jan-Oct|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Investments approved by the Board of Investments and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority for the ten months to October rose 22. 0 pct year-on-year to 46.875 bln pesos from 38.563 bln a year earlier, Trade and Industry Secretary Manuel Roxas II said.
In October alone, government agencies approved 11.71 bln pesos worth of projects, up 747.0 pct over the same month last year.
"All the different sectors are on the upswing," Roxas said, adding the decline in investments in the manufacturing sector has finally bottomed out.
Investments in the manufacturing sector stood at 24.77 bln pesos, representing 53.0 pct of total project approvals during the 10-month period.
In October, two projects of oil refiner Petron Corp worth 5.265 bln pesos were approved by the investments board. These include 3.348 bln pesos for a gas hydrotreater project and 1.917 bln for a naphtha facility.
Another big project in the pipeline is the 2.53 bln, 50 megawatt co-generation power facility of Asia Pacific Economic Energy Corp.
Total investments in the electricity, gas and water supply sector rose 169.0 pct year-on-year to 7.295 bln pesos, and accounted for 16.0 pct of total investments during the period.
(1 usd = 55.66 pesos)
|Philippine Republic Cement approves conversion of loan to Fortune into equity|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Republic Cement Corp said its board of directors has agreed to convert into equity the 790.45-mln peso loan it had extended to Fortune Cement.
Republic Cement is the holder of convertible loan notes issued by Fortune Cement in July 1998.
The loan will be converted into 193.91 mln common shares of Fortune at the conversion ratio of 4.07 pesos per common share to be issued out of Fortune's unissued capital stock.
(1 usd = 55.66 pesos)
|Philippine T-bill rates rise, 364-day bids rejected|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Treasury bill rates rose on full award for the 91-day and 182-day tenors at today's auction, the Bureau of Treasury said.
Bids for the 364-day T-bills, which were undersubscribed, were rejected.
The rates have been widely expected to go up following the resignation of Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho last Friday. He will stay on until Nov 30.
The 91-day rate averaged 6.532 pct, compared with 6.262 pct previously, with bids ranging from 6.375 pct to 6.625 pct. The government awarded in full its 4.000-bln peso offer. Total tenders reached 5.423 bln.
The 182-day rate averaged 7.586 pct versus 7.421 pct previously with bids ranging from 7.50 and 7.750. The government made a full award of its offer of 2.5 bln on total tenders of 3.805 bln.
The government rejected the bids for the 364-day T-bills as bids averaged 8.474 from 7.884 previously. Tenders totalled 2.832 bln, below the 3.00 bln offering.
Deputy National Treasurer Nina Figueroa said the rise in T-bill rates was due to "uncertainties" brought about by the resignation of Camacho, whose team was responsible for putting a rein on the country's widening budget deficit.
She added the possible candidacy of popular action star Fernando Poe Jr in the 2004 presidential election has also worried investors.
(1 usd = 55.662 pesos)
|Manila shares close flat on Camacho resignation, politics|
(Updating with analysts' comments, share prices)
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Share prices closed flat, after trading in the red for most of the session, following Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho's announcement of his resignation effective end of the month, dealers said.
However, gains in blue chips Philippine Long Distance Telephone Corp, SM Prime and Manila Electric Co capped the market's decline.
A weekend news report that movie star Fernando Poe Jr had confirmed his plan to run in the 2004 presidential election also weighed on sentiment, they added.
Investors are said to be wary of a Poe candidacy given his lack of experience in public service and his close ties with ousted President Joseph Estrada.
The composite index closed marginally up 0.28 points or 0.02 pct at 1,334. 58 on 212.96 mln shares worth 295.91 mln pesos. It traded between 1,324.66 and 1,334.58.
In the broader market, losers beat gainers 33 to 23, with 29 stocks unchanged.
"Camacho's resignation is a major setback. It sends a signal that this may be tainted by some reform issues," AB Capital Securities research director Jose Vistan Jr said.
Camacho, in a press conference last Friday, did not give any reason for his resignation, except to say that his decision was due to a confluence of various factors.
National Treasurer Sergio Edeza is set to follow suit by the end of the year.
"Since the fundamentals and the economic recovery of our trading partners are still intact, this is just a healthy correction the market is going through," Citiseconline.com analyst Mark Alan Canizares said.
|Forex-Philippine peso at 34-month intra-day low on Camacho resignation|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The peso fell to its lowest intra-day level in two years and 10 months following the resignations of Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho and National Treasurer Sergio Edeza, dealers said.
The much-anticipated candidacy of movie star Fernando Poe Jr in the 2004 presidential election also weighed on the local currency. Investors are wary of a Poe candidacy given his lack of experience in government service and his close ties with former President Joseph Estrada, who was ousted due to corruption allegations.
The peso fell to 55.700 to the US dollar in early morning trade, near the all-time record day low of 55.75 on Jan 17, 2001 during the height of a mass uprising against former President Joseph Estrada.
It has so far averaged at 55.673 to the dollar on volume of 69.50 mln usd, weaker from its close on Friday of 55.585.
"The market's reaction to Camacho's resignation was expected, but it looks like the central bank has prepared for any eventuality," a local bank dealer said.
Camacho, a highly-respected investment banker before becoming finance chief, is set to leave his post on Nov 30. He did not provide any specific reason for his resignation, except to say that his decision was due to a confluence of various factors.
Edeza, meanwhile, will stay put until the end of the year.
Dealers said the central bank has so far sold 30.0 mln usd in the spot market, less than half the volume in early morning, to prevent the peso from falling past 55.70.
The peso is seen to trade within a narrow range of 55.60-55.70, with support likely to come from both the central bank and exporters, who had been selling their dollar reserves early in the day.
|Philippines leader says capital punishment will not stop kidnappings - report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - President Gloria Arroyo today doused the ethnic Chinese community's calls to restore the death penalty to curb rampant kidnappings, saying it will not solve the problem, Agence France Presse reported.
Hundreds of ethnic Chinese took to the streets on Sunday, turning the funeral of kidnap victim Betti Sy, a Coca-Cola finance manager, into a street protest that called for firmer government efforts, including capital punishment, to rein in kidnap gangs, the news agency said.
In a written statement, Arroyo said she will "continue to consult with Congressional leaders", as well as with the influential Roman Catholic Church.
Church leaders have prevailed on her more than two years ago to suspend executions.
"I am resolved to take all means to deter the commission of heinous crimes and strengthen criminal justice," the president said.
"But I must emphasize that the death penalty is not the end-all to heinous crime. The entire criminal justice system -- involving the police, the courts, the prosecution, the correctional system and community -- must be able to team up to prevent, deter and solve heinous crimes."
According to independently-gathered statistics, kidnappings for ransom, usually targeting affluent Chinese-Filipinos, were at a 10-year high in the Philippines with a victim snatched on average every three days.
Political observers say Arroyo is wary of locking horns with the church ahead of the May 2004 presidential election.
In a written statement, Senate President Franklin Drilon said "there is an existing law and the death penalty," and that Arroyo should not pass the burden of the presidency on to Congress.
Arroyo had earlier called for amendments to curtail the use of capital punishment, but Drilon said Congress cannot be expected to pass amendments with just 12 session days before it adjourns ahead of the election campaign.
Arroyo, who survived a military rebellion in July, said "there could be a destabilization aspect" in the kidnappings. She earlier ordered the police to investigate links between crime gangs and politicians.
|Philippine Premiere Entertainment,NMI shareholders approve future subscription|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Premiere Entertainment Productions Inc (PEP) said shareholders of Next Mobile Inc (NMI) have agreed to subscribe to PEP's future 7.0-bln peso capital stock increase in exchange for 97 pct of Next Mobile's issued capital stock.
PEP stockholders earlier approved the company's acquisition of a controlling stake in Next Mobile. The company manages and operates the
In a disclosure to the stock exchange, PEP said it has entered into a memorandum of agreement with Next Mobile shareholders Top Mega Enterprises Ltd, Joycelink Holdings Ltd, Gamboa Holdings, Emerald Investments Inc, Foodcamp Industries and Marketing Inc for their future subscription to PEP's common shares at a par value of 0.50 pesos each.
The subscription will take place after companies' capital restructuring.
After the subscription of Next Mobile shareholders to PEP and the assignment of Next Mobile shares to PEP, Next Mobile shareholders are expected to control 96.2 pct of PEP.
PEP will own 97 pct of Next Mobile.
(1 usd = 55.667 pesos)
|Philippines' First Metro Investment Corp div 26.52 pesos per share|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Investment house First Metro Investment Corp has set a cash dividend of 26.52 pesos per share.
The payment and record dates have yet to be announced, it told the stock exchange.
FMIC previously closed at 175 pesos per share.
(1 usd = 55.585 pesos)
|Philippines' Oct tourist arrivals up 11.3 pct yr-on-yr|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Tourists arrivals in the Philippines in October rose 11.3 pct year-on-year to 167,573, indicating an upturn after the SARS outbreak, the Tourism department said.
It did not provide January to October data, although tourists arrivals in the nine months to September declined 8.00 pct year-on-year to 1.33 mln.
The majority of the tourists came from Asia, data show.
"US President George W. Bush's visit to the Philippines on Oct 18 was a big boost to the country's tourism industry with a high percentage increase. It was during his visit that many tourist from neighbouring countries arrived in the Philippines to witness the US President, in addition to the Filipino-Americans who also came here for a trade mission," Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon said.
|Philippines' Globe, Digitel reach interim agreement with US MCI on call rates|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Globe Telecom said it has reached an interim agreement with US carrier MCI to settle their dispute over termination fees.
An industry source said a similar interim deal has been signed between Digitel Telecommunications Philippines Inc (Digitel) and the US carrier.
Globe carrier services head Gil Genio said the deal is "an important first step" to normalizing the relationship between the parties, subject to the lifting of the US Federal Communications Commission's order that prohibited the US carrier from paying Philippine telcos for processed inbound calls from the US.
In a statement, Globe explained that while it did not block the circuits with MCI, the stop-payment order issued by the US regulator "did create some disruption in the relationship since Globe could not be assured that it would, and when it would, be paid for traffic received from US carriers." It did not elaborate.
While no details of the interim agreement was provided, Genio said he hopes "the conclusion of this interim agreement will pave the way for the US FCC to ultimately lift its stop-payment order and end the long-drawn dispute with US carriers that began 10 months ago."
The FCC's decision was based on claims by US carriers that Philippine telcos were blocking calls from US carriers to force them to pay higher termination rates.
Meanwhile, an industry source said MCI has agreed to local telcos' new termination rates. Implemented in February, Philippine carriers increased their termination rates for landline calls to 0.12 usd per minute from 0.08 usd and to 0.16 usd per minute from 0.12 usd for cellular calls.
The source said Digitel's interim deal with MCI calls for the payment of MCI's arrears according to the new rate schedule.
Earlier the FCC ordered US carriers ATT and MCI International to resume payments to Smart Communications Inc for the latter's share of revenues made by US carriers on calls to the Philippines.
Smart is the wireless unit of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.
The FCC International Bureau, in an order dated Nov 17, said it lifted the stop-payment order after receiving separate notices from the two US carriers that Smart had resumed direct connections with them after they settled their long-standing dispute over termination rates.
|Philippine central bank sees Nov CPI up 3.5 pct yr-on-yr vs 3.1 pct in Oct|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The central bank expects the consumer price index (CPI) to rise of 3.5 pct year-on-year in November, compared to an increase of 3.1 pct in October, central bank deputy governor Amando Tetangco Jr said.
"Oil prices have increased, while Christmas spending has started," Tetangco told reporters.
The peso's volatility versus the US dollar due to political uncertainties will also add to price pressures, he added.
The peso closed at 55.585 to the dollar on Friday from its previous close of 55.29 following the resignation of Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho effective Nov 30.
The central bank is maintaining its forecast that the full-year inflation rate will settle near 3.0 pct, lower than the government's target of 4.5-5.5 pct.
The inflation rate averaged 3.0 pct in the first three quarters of the year.
|Philipine banks end-September NPL ratio 14.49 pct vs 14.96 pct in August|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Commercial banks' non-performing loans (NPL) ratio stood at 14.49 pct of total loans as of end-September, easing from 14.96 pct at end-August, the central bank said.
The central bank attributed the lower NPL level to growth in the banks' total loan portfolio which outpaced the slight rise in debts with principal or interests unpaid for 90 days.
Banks' total loan portfolio rose 3.7 pct month-on-month in September to 1. 72 trln, with NPLs up 0.4 pct to 249.15 bln.
The commercial banking sector's non-performing assets (NPA) declined to 13.25 pct of total assets in September from 13.32 pct a month earlier. NPAs include NPLs and foreclosed assets.
At the end of the third quarter, 12 of 41 commercial banks posted NPL ratios above the industry's average.
(1 usd = 55.585 pesos)
|China warns Philippines over visit by high level Taiwanese delegation|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - China has warned the Philippines that bilateral ties could suffer if it allowed an upcoming visit to Manila by a high level Taiwanese delegation, sources said Sunday.
Taiwanese Vice-President Annette Lu and Taiwan's foreign, economic and overseas affairs ministers are set to fly here for meetings of the Asia Overseas Chinese Federation and the Philippines-Taiwan Business Council from Nov 25 to 28.
They have sought meetings with Philippine President Gloria Arroyo and Foreign Secretary Blas Ople.
The Philippines maintains strong business relations with neighbour Taiwan although it officially adheres to the one-China policy.
"The Chinese government has strongly requested to the Philippine government to stick to the one-China policy and to refuse all these persons mentioned who are coming to the Philippines," a source told Agence France-Presse.
"The Chinese government thinks bilateral relations can be damaged if the visit proceeded," the source said.
Philippine government officials were not available for comment.
Last year Manila shelved a plan to buy surplus F-5E fighter jets from Taipei after Beijing warned it would violate the Philippine's recognition of the one-China policy.
The Chinese ambassador to Manila, Wang Chunggui, last week warned that Philippine security could be affected if Taiwan's drive for independence triggered a war with China.
China has stepped up military threats over the past week after Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian launched an aggressive re-election campaign based on the assertion that Taiwan is a separate country from China.
|Enraged Chinese-Filipinos demand justice as kidnappings escalate|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Enraged Chinese-Filipinos demanded justice today as they mourned the latest victim in a 10-year high of often deadly kidnappings targeting the Philippines' relatively wealthy ethnic Chinese community.
Calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty, 300 Chinese-Filipinos joined a funeral march for Betti Sy, 32, whose body was found stuffed in a garbage bag a day after she was kidnapped in Manila.
The ceremony was held as the military reported that a wealthy Chinese-Filipino couple had escaped from a Muslim kidnapping gang in the southern Philippines.
Funeral-goers carried banners bearing the slogans "Justice for Betti Sy" and "Death to kidnappers" as a blue hearse carrying Sy's white coffin slowly made its way to a northern Manila cemetery.
A pamphlet distributed at the march accused President Gloria Arroyo's government of "failing to ensure civilians that law and order can prevail in our land."
"The resurgence for the campaign for the death penalty will now be mixed with the wailing and crying of the grieving family, friends and fellow workers of Betti Sy," it said.
"They should cry and wail at the top of their voices and we should also join them as they are our sisters and brothers."
According to independently-gathered statistics, kidnappings for ransom, usually targeting Chinese-Filipinos, were at a 10-year high in the Philippines with a victim snatched on average every three days.
Sy was the 156th kidnap victim this year, statistics showed.
|Popular actor and Estrada ally to run for Philippine presidency - report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine movie icon Fernando Poe Junior, an ally of deposed president Joseph Estrada, will run in next year's presidential election, he said in an newspaper interview published today.
The candidacy of Poe, known affectionately as "Da King" or FPJ, could prove the greatest stumbling block for incumbent Gloria Arroyo's chances of winning a second term in the May polls, surveys showed.
Poe, 64, commands a huge following across the Philippines, where he is considered the local verion of Hollywood hero John Wayne. He is consistently one of the top five preferred candidates cited in recent national surveys and commands the poorest classes of society, which account for four out of 10 Filipinos.
"I cannot turn my back on the people. I cannot be deaf to their clamor," Poe told the widely-circulated Philippine Star. "As far back as September 2002, I was already coming out in the surveys, and I was the person least likely to be a presidential candidate."
"I had nothing to do with politics. No political ambition whatsoever. But the clamor was there," Poe said.
Poe said he will run under the banner of the opposition.
Asked why he thought he should lead this country of 80 mln people, Poe said: "Because I am not beholden to anybody. And because I am not corrupt."
Anticipation about Poe's announcement has hurt financial markets because he is largely perceived by the business community as unqualified for the presidency.
Poe started out in the movies with close friend Estrada, who rose from being a town mayor to president in the 1998 elections. Estrada was deposed by a popular revolt in 2001 amid charges of massive corruption. He is now in detention while being tried.
|Chinese-Filipino traders seized in latest kidnapping in Philippines|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - A wealthy Chinese-Filipino couple were seized by gunmen believed to be members of a Muslim kidnap gang in the southern Philippines amid growing fears over a spate of kidnappings, a military official said.
The suspects barged into hardware store owned by Boy Villarin, 40, in the province of Sultan Kudarat on Saturday and forced him and his wife Susan into a waiting vehicle, said provincial army brigade chief Brigadier General Agustin Demaala.
His wife was rescued later after the vehicle was in an accident following a high-speed chase with police, but Villarin was grabbed by the gunmen and transferred to a truck they commandeered, Demaala said.
Military and police authorities caught up with members of the group near the town of Ampatuan later in the day and arrested four suspects, all positively identified by Villarin's wife.
Villarin however remains a captive and security forces are on the trail of his kidnappers, said to be members of a Muslim kidnap gang called Pentagon operating on Mindanao island.
The report of Villarin's kidnapping came on the same day as members of the affluent Chinese-Filipino community in Manila prepared for a street protest to accompany the funeral march of a young member of their community kidnapped and murdered by kidnappers last week.
The body of Betti Sy, a senior Coca-Cola executive, was found stuffed inside a trash bag, a day after she was abducted by gunmen. She is the 156th member of the Chinese-Filipino community kidnapped this year in Manila.
|Japan to start free trade talks with Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia:|
TOKYO (AFX-ASIA) - Japan is likely to start negotiations for free trade agreements with the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia before the end of this year, a news report said today.
The free trade talks between Japan and the three Southeast Asian countries are likely to start immediately after Japanese and Southeast Asian officials draft reports on the economic benefits of the deals, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said.
The reports are expected to be drawn up before the special summit between Japan and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries, due to be held in Tokyo from Dec 11, the business daily said.
However, the talks are likely to be difficult, since Japan has been reluctant to accept calls for abolishing tariffs on rice, chicken and other agricultural products by Thailand. The Philippines and Malaysia have also asked Japan to allow them to send nurses and other personnel to work in Japan, the newspaper said.
|Philippines' Arroyo says reforms to continue despite official's resignation|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has said that economic reforms will continue following the surprise resignation of Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho.
Speaking at a political forum at the Ateneo de Manila university yesterday, Arroyo said her government will continue reforms aimed at keeping the budget deficit and inflation under control.
"What we need most are fiscal reforms, macroeconomic reforms... if we keep on spending without anything being added to our revenue collection, things will become harder for the government," Arroyo said.
She made no direct reference to Camacho, her most senior economic adviser who resigned on Friday (Nov 21), citing "a combination of many, many reasons".
Camacho, a respected banker, was credited with having kept the budget deficit under control this year after it exceeded official ceilings last year, alarming international creditors.
Camacho's abrupt departure raised concerns that his reforms will not be followed through. In reaction to his resignation Friday, the peso currency fell to 55.585 against the US dollar from Thursday's close of 55.29.
|Filipinos must learn to speak Japanese to get more investment - survey|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Getting more Filipinos to speak Japanese would remove the biggest concern for Japanese investors in the Philippines, a Japanese business leader said, citing a recent survey.
Takashi Nakamura, chief executive of software developer Agent Ltd, said the survey of 120 Japanese companies conducted last year found that Japanese language skills were the biggest factor in deciding whether to work with foreign companies.
In a presentation to Filipino companies, released yesterday, Nakamura said Japanese are "still scared of the language barrier between you and them".
Technical skills were the second biggest factor followed by cost and then experience in working with the Japanese, he said in a presentation by the Philippine Trade Department.
Nakamura said the survey of 55 Japanese information technology (IT) firms also found that only three had links to the Philippines while 41 were working with China and 18 with India.
The Philippines, which has been left behind by its Asian neighbors in attracting Japanese capital, has recently been wooing Japanese information technology firms. mm/bro AFN
|Prime Gaming Philippines' board approves buy-back of 5.5 mln shares|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Investment holdings firm Prime Gaming Philippines Inc said its board of directors has passed a resolution to repurchase on the open market up to 5.5 mln of its common shares at not more than 20.00 pesos each.
The company will use retained earnings, which amounted to 129.86 mln pesos as at end-October, to fund the share buy-back program.
The proposed number of shares to be bought back is equivalent to 5.52 pct of the company's issued and paid-up capital stock.
The total acquisition cost is placed at 110 mln pesos, the company told the stock exchange.
(1 usd = 55.585 pesos)
|Philippine Finance Secretary resigns,Treasurer Edeza to quit|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho said he has resigned from the government and that his resignation will be effective November 30.
Separately, National Treasurer Sergio Edeza told reporters he would be tendering his resignation, but would stay on until the end of the year.
Camacho, speaking at a press conference to announce his decision, said: "I think we have to respect his (Edeza's) decision. I encouraged him to stay on."
The peso fell against the US dollar, hitting an intra-day low of 55.600 on the news of Camacho's resignation. The currency closed weaker, shedding 0. 2950 pesos to 55.585 from yesterday's close of 55.29 on volume worth 175.50 mln usd.
Camacho said he had recommended that Finance Undersecretary Juanita Amatong take over his finance post.
He did not cite any particular reason for quitting, but said "frustration comes with the job."
"I'm happy the President has accepted it," he said.
Asked to elaborate on his decision, Camacho said "It's a combination of many, many reasons. It's time to move on and get on to the next stage of (my) life. I'm leaving the department in a stable condition."
A government source said Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri has been asked by President Arroyo to replace Camacho, who had expressed his intention to leave the post as early as July.
Asked about the speculation, Neri said: "The President has not spoken to me. I don't know anything about it yet."
Camacho has been credited for restoring discipline in the government's financial performance after his team was able to keep the country's budget deficit within rein so far this year, a reversal from a bloated budget deficit in 2002.
In the 10 months to October, the deficit reached 163.875 bln pesos, below the ceiling of 171.88 bln.
The bulk of the government's financing requirements for next year have also been pre-funded ahead of the 2004 presidential elections when interest rates are expected to rise.
|Manila shares close mixed on Wall St fall, security concerns|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Share prices closed mixed, after tracking Wall Street's losses during most of the session, following recent bombings in Istanbul and a new kidnapping in Manila's business district, dealers said.
Globe Telecoms led decliners, while the rise in Philippine Long Distance Telephone limited the fall.
The 30-company composite index closed up 1.96 points or 0.15 pct at 1,334. 30 on 361.41 mln shares worth 286.42 mln pesos. It traded between 1,325.66 and 1,334.36.
In the broader market, losers beat gainers 25 to 12, with 45 stocks unchanged.
Dealers said renewed terrorism and domestic order concerns prompted investors to stay on the sidelines or cash in on slight gains.
A 10-year old girl was kidnapped early this morning on her way to school at a busy district in Manila several days after the abduction and killing of a female Coca-Cola executive also in the metropolis.
"The recent death of a kidnap victim plus new abductions have alarmed investors, prompting them to take profit this early," Citiseconline.com analyst Mark Alan Canizares said.
Kidnappings are at a 10-year high and statistics show there is at least one kidnapping case every three days with most victims from the affluent Chinese-Filipino community.
Volatility in most regional bourses, in line with Wall Street's fall, also kept most investors at bay as reflected in the low value turnover, he added.
At least 26 people were killed and more than 450 injured in two powerful bomb attacks against British interests in Istanbul yesterday. Among the dead was the British consul general in the country and three employees of London-based HSBC.
Globe Telecom was top-traded, down 15.00 pesos at 745 on 91,060 shares.
PLDT was up 15 at 760 on 71,830 shares.
SM Prime was steady at 6.50 on 6.43 mln shares.
Ayala Land was down 0.20 at 5.70 on 5.8 mln shares.
Meralco B, open to foreigners, shed 0.25 to 21.25. Meralco A was unchanged at 14.00.
Its parent firm First Holdings also shed 0.25 to 18.00.
Bank of the Philippine Islands gained 0.50 to 44, while parent Ayala Corp gained 0.05 to 5.00.
The all-shares index was down 0.64 points at 824.67.
The commercial-industrial index rose 7.97 to 1,985.65.
Property was down 8.90 at 556.01, while mining also shed 8.49 to 1,662.02.
Oil was unchanged at 1.36.
Banking and financial services were up 2.14 at 426.05.
(1 usd = 55.365 pesos)
|CORRECTION-Singapore's KLW unit expands in Malaysia; looks at 3 more countries|
(Correcting percentage change in 5th para)
SINGAPORE (AFX-ASIA) - Construction firm KLW Holdings Ltd said its retail unit Barang Barang has opened a franchise store in Malaysia and plans to set up more franchises in Australia, Philippines and Spain.
The company added that Barang Barang plans to open a second franchise store in a Petaling Jaya mall just outside Kuala Lumpur before the year-end, with another two scheduled to open within the next two years.
Its retail unit is also negotiating with franchise operators to enter markets in Australia, Philippines and Spain.
Barang Barang has also opened another store in Singapore, bringing the total outlets in Singapore to six.
The company has set a sales target of 14.0 mln sgd for Barang Barang in 2003, up 40.0 pct from 2002.
KLW has asked for the lifting of its trading suspension following this announcement.
(1 usd = 1.71 sgd)
|Forex - Philippine peso slightly weaker on security concerns|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The peso was slightly weaker against the US dollar in early trade on renewed security concerns after the terror bombings in Istanbul and on rising cases of kidnapping in the Philippines, dealers said.
At 11.08 am, the peso averaged 55.367 to the US dollar, having traded within a range of 55.32 and 55.410 on 83.0 mln usd until then.
It closed at 55.29 yesterday.
Dealers said banks and clients were beefing up their dollar holdings ahead of the weekend, hoping to meet early their financing requirements at the end of the month.
Terror concerns weighed on sentiment after suicide car bombers blew up British targets in Istanbul yesterday, killing 27 people, including the UK's consul general, less than a week after devastating blasts at two synagogues in Turkey's largest city.
On the local front, investors are becoming increasing wary of the rising number of kidnappings, following the death of a 32-year old Chinese-Filipina Coca-Cola executive earlier this week and this morning's abduction of a 10-year old ethnic Chinese girl on her way to school.
Kidnappings are at a 10-year high and statistics show there is at least one kidnapping case every three days and most victims are members of the affluent Chinese-Filipino community.
Dealers said the peso will see support at 55.200 and resistance at 55. 600, with the local currency likely to trade on a weaker note.
|Angry ethnic Chinese-Filipinos to protest against kidnap terror|
MANILA, Nov 21 (AFP) - A black cloud of anger and despair has descended on the ethnic Chinese community in the Philippines as they prepare to bury a young woman abducted and killed in Asia's kidnapping capital, Agence France Presse has reported.
Betti Sy, a fast-rising Manila-based executive of US soft drink giant Coca-Cola, was found dead by a roadside in southern Manila on Tuesday, her bullet-torn corpse wrapped in a white shroud and stuffed in a black trash bag.
The viciousness of her abduction and killing -- Philippines police suspect the 32-year-old bled to death before her captors telephoned her family to demand a 10 mln peso ransom -- has shocked the business community.
Chinese Filipino leaders plan to turn her funeral on Sunday into a mammoth street protest. In fliers distributed at her wake, they urged citizens to "show our anger against the rampage of kidnapping that is terrorizing our lives."
Successive Filipino leaders have grappled with kidnap gangs since the early 1990s.
The last time the small and tightly-knit Chinese-Filipino community took to the streets in anger was in 1993, when they buried a kidnapped schoolgirl who was shot dead in a bungled police rescue attempt.
"We haven't seen it this bad for 10 years," said Teresita See, a community leader.
Sy's killing also highlights the phenomenal economic success of the descendants of immigrants from China, the prey of choice of more than a dozen known kidnap gangs.
Ethnic Chinese hold many of the economic levers of power. They own the country's biggest shopping malls, most of its biggest banks and many of its biggest manufacturing companies.
Two generations ago, "you would see Chinese selling bean curd on the street. Now they are the ones buying," said Edgardo Diansuy of the government's Commission on Human Rights.
Diansuy, who said his father has Chinese blood, told AFP there was a public perception that "the Chinese have a submissive tendency and tended not to report kidnappings to the police."
Community leaders say this was because they feared rogue cops were in league with the gangs. As a safety precaution, some families send children to school abroad or buy guns. Others have left the country.
Many victims have banded together into groups to provide advice, moral support, and at times even help deliver ransoms, according to See. She said she served as a clearing house linking support groups and police with the families of new victims.
See said that "in most instances, even if they (victims' relatives) get the cooperation of the police, they're allowed to pay ransom. Up to this point, I don't think we have the capability to effect safe rescues."
Another ethnic Chinese source told AFP that in the past some gangs did not even bother to actually kidnap their targets.
They simply telephoned the potential victims, read back to them their prepared schedule for the day and the routes and vehicles they would be taking, and gave the terrified targets a bank account number where a ransom would have to be deposited.
Senate president Franklin Drilon said there have been 156 kidnappings this year and 176.7 mln pesos paid as ransom. Six out of 10 abductions occurred in Manila.
"This is an astounding and frightening record," he said. "This type of criminality strikes at the heart of our economy, discouraging investments and business expansion."
President Gloria Arroyo's response to the latest abduction was swift and blunt. Four of the alleged kidnappers, including the gang leader were killed and eight others arrested in a series of police raids.
"Let us show these criminals that the law never sleeps, and they cannot escape it," she said.
(1 usd= 55.29 pesos)
|Philippines' PCI Leasing buys back 818,000 shares on Nov 20|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - PCI Lpesos apiece or for a total of 1.079 mln pesos. They were untraded this morning after closing at 1.32 pesos yesterday.
(1 usd = 55.29 pesos)easing & Finance Inc said it bought back 818,000 shares from the market on Nov 20.
The shares were purchased at 1.32
|ALERT - Philippine PLDT firmer early on bargain-hunting, ADRs gains|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co (PLDT) was firmer in early trade as investors accumulated the stock after its recent decline, dealers said.
The gains were in line with the further advance of its American Depositary Receipts in New York last night, they added.
PLDT was up 10.00 pesos at 755 on 4,320 shares.
Its ADRs gained 0.01 usd to 13.57 overnight.
PLDT hit a high of 845 pesos in early November after announcing a better-than-expected net profit of 5.8 bln pesos in the nine months to September.
It hit a low of 725 early this week on profit-taking and across-the-board decline in the local bourse.
(1 usd = 55.29 pesos)
|Malaysia's Idaman to expand insurance ops in Indonesia, Philippines - report|
KUALA LUMPUR (AFX-ASIA) - Idaman Unggul Bhd is looking to expand its insurance business, particularly in Indonesia and the Philippines, The Star newspaper reported, quoting chairman Annuar Senawi.
The company has already formed a joint-venture with Indonesia-based PT Solar Global to acquire two insurance companies, Annuar said.
"We are looking to acquire a medium-sized general and life insurance company as we feel there is a good market for the insurance business in Indonesia. At the moment, Idaman Unggul has not identified any particular insurers," he said.
The tie-up with Solar Global will enable Idaman to tap into the former's member base of about 30 mln to whom it could sell insurance products.
On its Philippines expansion, Idaman hopes to increase its 20 pct stake in Manila-based Monarch Insurance to a controlling 51 pct interest by the second quarter of next year.
Locally, Idaman submitted an application for an Islamic insurance or "takaful" licence to Bank Negara and it is awaiting the outcome, Annuar said.
|Philippine Stock Exchange to implement listing by way of introduction on Dec 5|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Philippine Stock Exchange will implement from Dec 5 listing by way of introduction, which will enable companies to list their shares on the bourse without having to undertake an initial public offering.
The stock exchange will list its 9.2 mln outstanding common shares on Dec 15 using the new scheme.
In a memorandum to brokers, the stock exchange said listing by way of introduction shall be allowed for companies where listing in an exchange is mandated by law or the Securities and Exchange Commission, or where securities to be listed are already listed or traded or will simultaneously be listed on another exchange.
The scheme may also be applied when securities of an unlisted issuer are distributed through property dividend by a listed issuer to its shareholders. It will also be allowed when a holding company is formed and its securities are issued in exchange for the securities of one or more listed issuers, and the listing of the listed issuer is withdrawn at the same time as the securities of the issuer are listed.
Companies listing through introduction are still required to undertake an IPO within a year from the listing.
|Philippine Maynilad receiver asks court to stop MWSS from tapping bond-report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The rehabilitation receiver of Maynilad Water Services Inc has asked a regional trial court to prevent state regulator Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) from tapping the company's 120 mln usd performance bond, the BusinessWorld newspaper reported, citing court documents.
"I respectfully recommend that the stay order be deemed to include a stay on the drawing of the performance bond and a stay against the service of a notice of termination," lawyer Rosario Bernardo said in a pleading.
The International Arbitration Court earlier ordered Maynilad to pay more than 6 bln pesos in dues to the government and to maintain its 25-year concession agreement.
The court issued the order to Maynilad after the utility tried to pull out of the concession last year, citing government's failure to comply with requirements.
The arbitration ruling also requires Maynilad to continue its services within its concession area in cooperation with the state water regulator.
The water firm is a joint venture between the Benpres Holdings Corp of the politically-prominent Lopez family, and an affiliate of French multinational Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux.
Maynilad in December announced that it is ending its 25-year concession agreement with the MWSS after failing to get rate increases. It later on brought the case before the arbitration court.
(1 usd = 55.29 pesos)
|Philippine Meralco unlikely to get ERC rate hike approval this year - report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Power distributor Manila Electric Co is unlikely to get rate increase approval this year after the Energy Regulatory Commission's (ERC) asked for additional documentation to justify its rate adjustment plea, the BusinessWorld newspaper reported, quoting ERC chairman Manuel Sanchez.
Sanchez said the commission has yet to start to review Meralco's petition to raise rates by 0.1358 pesos per kilowatthour. Among the documents needed is the firm's updated financial statement.
"We are still studying the application. There are so many pieces of documents and we are still asking them to submit more documentation," Sanchez was quoted as saying.
He added the petition has yet to undergo a series of public hearings.
Meralco, which is refunding 30.5-bln pesos in overcharges to customers, said it badly needs the rate increase given its critical condition.
(1 usd = 55.29 pesos)
|Philippine govt end-Sept total debt 3.195 trln pesos vs 3.158 trln in Aug|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The national government's total outstanding debt rose to 3.195 trln pesos at the end of September from 3.158 trln at end-August, official figures show.
Domestic borrowings stood at 1.656 trln, while foreign debt totaled 1.539 trln.
(1 usd = 55.29 pesos)
|Philippine central bank keeps policy interest rates unchanged|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The central bank's Monetary Board voted today to keep key interest rates unchanged at their lowest levels in 11 years, attributing the decision to the benign inflation rate and outlook.
The central bank's overnight rates were maintained at 6.75 pct for borrowing and 9.00 pct for lending.
The monetary authorities expect the full-year inflation rate to come in significantly below the government's target of 4.5-5.5 pct.
In the first three quarters of the year, the inflation rate averaged 3.0 pct year-on-year.
"The inflation environment remains very benign because of moderate demand and generally favorable supply conditions. In addition, there appear to be no major foreseeable cost-push risks to consumer prices in the near term," central bank governor Rafael Buenaventura said.
In deciding to keep the rates steady, Buenaventura said the Monetary Board was of the view that the prevailing balance of risks for consumer prices has not changed significantly over the past six months.
"Nevertheless, market concerns over emerging domestic political developments - which could have an adverse impact on market sentiment and inflation expectations - suggest the need for caution in formulating monetary policy stances. Prospective decisions on the monetary policy stance will, therefore, maintain a careful balance between caution and the need to support a sustainable path for economic activity," Buenaventura added.
The central bank's next policy-setting meeting will be on Dec 18.
(1 usd = 55.33 pesos)
|Philippines' Digitel to issue 31.11 mln usd zero coupon convertible bonds|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Digital Telecommunications Philippines said it will issue 31.11 mln usd in zero-coupon convertible bonds. The notes will be due on 2013.
In a disclosure to the stock exchange, Digitel said the offer period will be between Nov 24 and Dec 5.
The bonds will be issued for a total of 10.01 mln usd and will bear a yield-to-maturity of 12.0 pct before payment of a 20.0 pct withholding tax.
Digitel said shareholders of the company, on record as of September, will be entitled to 1.00 usd face value of bonds for every 217 shares held by the issuer.
The minimum face value of the bonds that may be subscribed to, will be 300.00 usd, which corresponds to a holding of 65,100 shares.
(1 usd = 55.33 pesos)