Monday, April 23, 2007

Filipinos 4th Largest Group in New Zealand

(GMA 7) - Filipinos rank 4th among the largest Asian groups in New Zealand, according to New Zealand's 2006 Culture and Identity Report.

The Chinese group is biggest with 147,570 people, followed by the Indians with 104,583, the Koreans with 30,792, and Filipinos with 16,938.

There are 354,552 Asians in New Zealand accounting for 9.2% of the national population, which now stands at 4,181,060, the latest census report said.

Although Asians remain the third largest group in the country, next only to Europeans and Maoris (New Zealand's native people of Polynesian descent), their populations grow fastest —that is from 238,176 in 2001 to 354,552 in 2006.

Filipinos expect their number would keep swelling as many are coming to find a home in this country known as the "Land of the Long White Cloud."

Victor, 40, a certified public accountant from Cebu, who arrived January of 2006, expects to get a permanent resident (PR) visa status next month. He said once he gets his PR, his wife and three kids in Cebu will join him soon.

Victor works as an accounting staff at the New Zealand Post, the country's postal services agency.

Highly skilled and professional Filipinos who migrated in last five years had hard time hunting for a job.

"If you are a nurse or an IT specialist or an accountant you can easily find a job that fits your credentials. Otherwise, you end up doing menial or manual jobs, regardless of credentials you have," said Vivian, 36, former sales executive and a graduate from a premier university in Manila.

She said she first worked as a factory worker for a year in Auckland before moving to the capital city Wellington, where she works as a clerk in a government office.

The two Filipinos have observed the growing diversity in New Zealand's population and culture, especially with the increase of the number of Asians.

They said this diversity in ethnic origins creates a pool of talented and skilled workers that New Zealand employers may wish take advantage of. – GMANews.TV

Ratings for 3 Philippine Banks

( - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said it has raised the long-term counterparty credit ratings to 'BB-' from 'B+' on Indonesia's PT Bank Negara Indonesia (Persero) Tbk (BNI), and the Philippines' Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank), Banco De Oro Universal Bank (BDO) and Equitable PCI Bank Inc. (EPCI) (see Ratings List below). The outlook is stable. At the same time, the Bank Fundamental Strength Ratings (BFSRs) of the four banks remain unchanged at 'D'.

The ratings have been raised to incorporate expected extraordinary support from the respective governments due to these banks' systemic importance in their individual countries. Standard & Poor's believes the respective governments are likely to have the willingness and capability to provide extraordinary support in the event the above banks encounter distress.

Extraordinary government support refers to specific actions-–recapitalization, liquidity support, or the purchase of problem assets-–that would prevent banks, including private sector banks, from failing. Standard & Poor's recognizes that the willingness of the governments of Indonesia and the Philippines to support systemically important banks in their systems, and defines these two governments as "interventionist." "Interventionist" is defined by Standard & Poor's as a government that is highly likely to intervene directly and rescue failing banks, compared with "supportive" and "support uncertain" governments (see "External Support Key In Rating Private Sector Banks Worldwide," published Feb. 27, 2007, on RatingsDirect).

BNI is a systemically important bank as it is the third largest with 10.5% market share in deposits and 8.4% in loans. Indonesia's PT Bank Mandiri (Persero) (BB-/Stable/B) is also a systemically important bank, in theory, qualifying for an uplift in its rating. However, Standard & Poor's does not think it appropriate that such implicit government support should raise the ratings on the bank above the foreign currency sovereign credit rating (foreign currency BB-/Stable/B; local currency BB+/Stable/B).

Metrobank in the Philippines is also systemically important as it is the largest bank with 16.4% market share in deposits and 11.4% in loans. BDO is also considered to be a systemically important bank as it will become the second-largest bank in the Philippines, after its expected merger with EPCI. On a pro forma basis, the merged market share of BDO-EPCI would be an estimated 15.8% in deposits and 12.4% in loans. Standard & Poor's expects BDO and EPCI to get the necessary approvals to complete the merger and be the second largest in the country.

Sola Cell Maker Expands Manufacturing Plant in RP

( - Sunpower Corporation, majority owned by Cypress Semiconductor, announced that they are expanding their solar cell manufacturing plant in the Philippines (SunPower Philippines Manufacturing Ltd). About Php 27 B ($562M) is being allocated for the expansion that will increase plant capacity to 400MW. An estimated 2000 jobs will be created by the expansion.

The existing plant in the Philippines is responsible for the production of the A300 model Solar Cell of the company. The expansion was brought about by a positive forecast for the succeeding years profits which is expected to triple that of 2006 due to an increased demand for Solar Power equipment.

A brief history of the company from their site:

SunPower solar technology was developed by Dr. Richard Swanson and his students while he was Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. Financial support for Dr. Swanson's early research was provided in part by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). In 1985 Dr. Swanson founded SunPower Corporation to commercialize high-efficiency photovoltaic cell technology for use in solar concentrators.