Dennis Uy's empire is growing not because of Duterte: lawyer


Posted at Jan 31 2019 09:58 AM | Updated as of Jan 31 2019 12:00 PM

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MANILA -- Tycoon Dennis Uy built his fortune over a decade and did not get rich because of his ties with President Rodrigo Duterte, a lawyer for his telecommunications venture said Friday.

Since Duterte assumed office in 2016, Uy has parlayed his petroleum business, Phoenix, into stakes in shipping, convenience stores, logistics, cakes and education.

"The common misconception is he just got rich during the term of Pres. Duterte, but Mr. Dennis Uy built his fortune decades ago when we set up Phoenix and it was publicly listed," said Mislatel corporate counsel Adel Tamayo.

"All this talk, why is he buying this and that? Well, he's buying businesses because he see the opportunity and because he already has the base," he said.

Uy is "not new money" and is known in business circles even before he became known in the mainstream, Tamano said.

Based in Davao where Duterte served as mayor for decades, Uy contributed P30 million to the President's 2016 campaign.

Uy's Udenna Corp and its subsidiary Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp formed a consortium with China Telecom and Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company, Inc. (Mislatel). The government chose the group last December to establish the third telecommunications player.

The company Mislatel's franchise came under scrutiny after senators found out it failed to operate within a year after it was granted.

Tamano said the peace and order situation in Mindanao forced Mislatel to miss the one year window from the grant of the franchise to start operations.

The National Telecommunications Commission found this force majeure a "valid reason" and exempted the company from the one-year condition, he said.

Tamano said he hoped the Senate would do the "right thing" and "cure" the technicalities that need to be addressed, setting aside.

"We went through a valid bidding, we have a valid franchise. It would be unfair, it would be illegal for us to go through another bidding again," he said.

The consortium has submitted to the NTC its roll-out plan and a binding bidding agreement as approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission. It will submit within the week or next its business plan, said Tamano.

It will also have to submit a plan to protect national security and cybersecurity before it can be given a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) and 244 MHz of frequencies, he said.

"We will be operating under a bit of more difficulties or more challenges because they don’t have commitments like us in terms of speed and coverage, and they don’t have the P25-billion performance bond hanging over their head," he said of dominant players PLDT Inc and Globe Telecom.

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