BIZ BUZZ: CURTAIN RAISER
Despite the recent global financial market turbulence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, young tycoon Edgar “Injap” Sia II is keen on pushing through with the P1.6-billion initial public offering (IPO) of his new baby, retailer Merrymart Consumer Corp.
The IPO has been approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission but is still awaiting approval from the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE). Because the PSE board is unable to convene, the Merrymart IPO would likely proceed “right after the lockdown,” Sia told Biz Buzz.
“Hopefully, we will be able to be ready right when the curve starts to shift positively after the lockdown,” Sia said.
As of press time, the market has shown renewed vigor, driven by massive pump-priming measures to counter COVID-19 fallout in the United States and the rest of the world. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Merrymart, which will list under the ticker MM, could thus be the first company to debut on the local stock market in this very challenging year.
The retailer will offer up to 1.59 billion worth of new common shares at a maximum price of P1 each, bringing to public hands up to 21 percent of its post-ipo stocks.
Merrymart’s 12-12-12 Vision 2030 calls for the rollout of 1,200 branches nationwide, bringing in P120 billion in system-wide sales revenues, to become one of the top three consumer companies in the country. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA
With the suspension of public transportation, installation of numerous checkpoints and curfew restrictions, commuting has become a big challenge for people who still need to go to work—such as bank, hospital, business process outsourcing or food retailing workers. Dormitory living has thus become a potential solution for workers without private vehicles who still need to be mobile.
Mytown, a coliving space serving young professionals in the BGC and Makati central business districts, has pitched temporary staff housing for businesses across the metro especially those affected by the quarantine and those who require emergency staff accommodation as part of their business continuity plans.
“Despite the global pandemic, it remains business as usual for many companies. Not all employees can work from home, which poses further constraints on professionals and HR departments. Therefore, Mytown now allows accommodation for businesses who require emergency short-term housing for its employees during the quarantine,” Mytown said.
Outside of the major central business districts, mom-and-pop dormitories have provided lodging options to workers that keep essential institutions running in this state of public health emergency. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA
It’s commendable that companies large and small are opening their wallets to support the segments of society most in need during the unfolding coronavirus pandemic.
Ordinary citizens are also pitching in. Globe Telecom recently announced it raised P9 million from subscribers who have donated rewards points they have accumulated.
Globe turned over P14 million, including P5 million it had pledged, to the PGH Medical Foundation Inc. The money will help stretch the Philippine General Hospital’s limited resources as its front-liners battle the disease and save lives.
The funds were specifically used by the foundation to buy test kits, alcohol and complete sets of personal protective equipment, such as surgical masks, face shields and surgical gowns. Apart from cash, the telco donated 50 mobile phones preloaded with unlimited calls and texts to all networks valid for 30 days to health care front-liners.
Local telcos Globe and PLDT are also stepping up by providing free Wi-fi in hospitals, provincial capitols and even supermarkets. —MIGUEL R. CAMUS
ABS-CBN lends hand
Several of the country’s largest business groups heeded
President Duterte’s call for them to secure the welfare of their employees with the early release of their 13th month pay as Luzon went under more stringent lockdown measures.
Many of these companies made the news and were recognized by the Department of Labor and Employment. Curiously missing, however, was media giant ABS-CBN Corp.
We heard ABS-CBN was, in fact, praised by several sectors for being proactive early on in presenting plans to worried employees. These include the labor group Defend Jobs Philippines and the Philippine Association of Managers Inc.
It seems ABS-CBN is compensating workers affected by the cancellation or suspension of shows. The company is also offering more pay to those who continue to report to work in these challenging times.
Other perks are accommodation, food and vitamins to employees who remain on duty. Most importantly, employees will still be paid while under mandatory quarantine and medical expenses will be shouldered should an employee test positive for the dreaded COVID-19.
No one knows how long the fight against this deadly virus will last. It’s good that big businesses and their “oligarch” bosses are one with the government in this battle. —MIGUEL R. CAMUS
The shutdown of many commercial and industrial establishments in the past several days has chopped off about a third of daily demand for electricity in the Luzon grid. Energy Secretary Alfonso
Cusi said that based on the Department of Energy’s monitoring, the enhanced community quarantine resulted in a reduction in electricity demand of around 30 percent, compared with the same period last year. Cusi said this meant most of the economic activities have slowed down.
For 2020, the government’s aim is to nudge the economy’s growth faster within the range of 6.5-7.5 percent. However, the National Economic and Development Authority estimated the crisis has the potential to pull down growth by 0.5 percentage point to 1 percentage point, assuming the pandemic would last until the middle of this year.
Lawrence Fernandez, Manila Electric Co. vice president and head of utility economics, said they have noted a similar, very substantial reduction in demand for power in the Meralco service area, compared to as recently as the week before the community quarantine was implemented. Meralco accounts for about three-quarters of power demand in Luzon, which in turn represents about 70 percent of nationwide demand.
National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), the operator of the country’s transmission grid, observed a reduction of about 35 percent in the volume of electricity traffic in Luzon. NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Perez-alabanza said the expected demand was 11,000 megawatts on March 18, but actual figures showed 7,100 MW.
Cusi said quarantine measures could also lead to delays in the completion of ongoing construction of power project and repairs of existing ones.