Businessmen air alarm over MVP threat to leave PH

By Zinnia B. Dela Peña, The Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 27 2012 07:33 AM | Updated as of Sep 27 2012 03:33 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A group of local stockbrokers and the Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce have expressed concern over telecommunication magnate Manuel V. Pangilinan’s threat to revert back corporate operations to Hong Kong, saying the local bourse stands to lose $2 trillion in market capitalization and that such a move could hinder the growth of the local economy.

The Pangilinan-led group’s investment portfolio includes listed firms Philippine Long Distance Telecommunications Co. (the country’s largest telecommunications provider), infrastructure conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp., power utility giant Manila Electric Co., West Zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services and Philex Mining Corp. (the nation’s leading copper-gold producer). It also owns the largest mobile phone provider Smart Communications Co., TV firm ABC Broadcasting or TV5, and cable provider Cignal.

“MVP’s threat to leave the country and divest himself of his business would be a big blow to the PNoy administration. It will send a strong message of decline in business confidence in the country. And whoever takes on the vacuum left by MVP would not be able to guarantee the same level of commitment he has given for the country’s development over the past decades,” said Rene Meily, president of the Phil-American business group in New York.

Astro Del Castillo, managing director at First Grade Finance Inc., expressed concern that the private sector is being dragged into the politically-charged controversy involving Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s back channel talks with China.

Del Castillo said Pangilinan’s group has been instrumental in propelling the economy’s growth by providing jobs, helping sports development, modernizing basic service in telecommunications, infrastructure, water and health care.

“MVP does not deserve this controversy, particularly the baseless charge of Trillanes that Pangilinan pushed Foreign Secretary Alberto del Rosario’s anti-China sentiments during Beijing-Manila talks about claims over Panatag Shoal in May,”Del Castillo said.

“Under MVP’s visionary leadership, MPIC and PLDT, in particular, have been in the forefront of creating exceptional value in key infrastructure projects that are geared towards building the nation and keeping the Philippines with its neighboring economies,” he added.

Del Castillo said the public “ should distinguish legitimate business moguls from the opportunist capitalists.”

“MVP is among the country’s business tycoons whose prime objective is to put the country’s economy back on track. The country can count with one hand, similar tycoons who genuinely prioritize the nation’s interest among the top corporations, even among the oldest ones in existence,” he said.

For his part, Francis Liboro, president of the Securities Analysts of the Philippines, said “MVP’s companies have been a collective advocate of social development and environmental protection.”

“MVP’s frustration and disappointment is understandable. He has worked very hard in the past decades to help raise the performance of the local economy, and has invested very heavily into its future growth, more than even many other older companies in the country,” he said.

“With its social and environmental commitments perfectly aligned with its business objectives, MVP’s companies have been investing in infrastructure to create jobs, improve the living conditions of people, and support the growth of business and industry,” Liboro said.

“If a business leader such as MVP were to move his operations, it would be a very unfortunate black mark on the government’s efforts to increase economic growth and investments.”

Liboro said MVP’s efforts in the country’s business sector has encouraged other local as well foreign investors that there is a level playing field in the Philippines, and has propagated healthy competition in most government and private sector endeavors.