Philippines' new tycoon rises from Duterte's Davao

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 11 2017 11:39 AM | Updated as of Jul 11 2017 01:51 PM

Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy

MANILA - (UPDATE) One of the country's most prolific dealmakers since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed power last year is Davao businessman Dennis Uy, emboldened by the plans of the first head of state from Mindanao to grow the economy from the countryside.

The 43-year-old Uy is parlaying the success of Phoenix Petroleum into shipping, logistics, real estate and education in deals worth billions of pesos.

Announcing his acquisition of hospitality school Enderun Colleges last week, Uy said he was seizing “another opportunity to support the Philippine economy’s growth.”

Duterte is planning to build P9 trillion in new roads, railways, and airports to spread development to the provinces and sustain the momentum of one of Asia’s fastest growing economies.

ACQUISITION BINGE

Uy is betting on a more connected Philippines with Chelsea Logistics, which is planning to raise up to P8 billion in its stock exchange debut this year. He also has a stake in shipping firm 2Go.

Last May, his holding company, Udenna Corp, announced plans to build a $300-million (P15.23 billion) casino-resort in Cebu, the first outside Metro Manila.

Phoenix Petroleum’s board last week approved the acquisition of Petronas Energy to strengthen Uy's LPG business. The $126.1 million (P6.27 billion) deal will be paid in cash, the company told the stock exchange.

The fuel dealer marked its 10th listing anniversary at the Philippine Stock Exchange on Tuesday, with Duterte scheduled to ring the closing bell.

Uy contributed P30,000,000 to Duterte's 2016 presidential campaign, according to documents filed with the Commission on elections. The Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters owner was also appointed presidential adviser on sports.

VISAYAS, MINDANAO RISING

ATR Asset Management research head Jomar Lacson said Uy's acquisition binge showed that businessmen outside Metro Manila wanted to contribute to economic growth.

"Businessmen from Mindanao should be elated that infrastructure is headed their way," Lacson told ANC.

More companies are also hoping to capitalize on the new government's direction.

Cebu Landmasters set a P2.9 billion initial public offering this year to meet demand for property from overseas Filipinos for their families in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Mall operator SM Prime Holdings recently opened its upscale SM CDO Downtown Premier in Cagayan de Oro City. Rivals Robinsons Land has also announced plans to open more malls outside the capital.

The country's largest carrier, Cebu Pacific, said last month that it was deploying bigger aircraft to its Cebu, Davao and Hong Kong routes to meet growing demand. It will also increase inter-island flights.

CONTROVERSIES

Like other tycoons before him, Uy's rise has not been without controversy.

The Department of Justice accused the company of smuggling in 2011, but the P6-billion complaint was dismissed by the Court of Appeals three years later.

On Monday, the PSE indefinitely suspended trading of 2Go shares after the shipping firm restated its earnings for 2015, 2016 and the first quarter of this year.

The company said it posted lower net profits in the last two years and incurred a loss, not a profit, the first three months of 2017.