Saturday, April 9, 2011

PNOC to List in Philippine Stock Exchange

The Board of Directors of the PNOC Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) has approved the start of preparations for the company's public offering of its shares of stock to comply with the regulations of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).

The Process for the hiring of the company's financial advisor/lead underwriter is already in full swing and the invitations for interested and potential parties will be sent out in the next couple of days.

As a publicly listed company, PNOC-EC, a subsidiary of the government-owned Philippine National Oil Company, is required to have a public float of at least 10 percent of its shares of stock. At present, the government owns 99.71 percent of PNOC-EC shares, and the public owns 0.29 percent.

Gemiliano C. Lopez Jr., PNOC-EC chairman and chief executive officer, said it would take from six to eight months for the preparation of documents from the start up to the end of the float. He disclosed that leading international banks have manifested interest in managing the float in the world market.

"We hope to ensure the best price for the offering," said Lopez, "so the Board has not fixed the actual date for its float. Timing is important. We would like to assure everyone that the best conditions will be obtained for the offering so that our company will get the best and highest price possible in the global market."

Government-initiated Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Project

Bus operators who participated in the government-initiated compressed natural gas (CNG) project have appealed to the Department of Energy to closely monitor the operations of the lone CNG refilling station in Laguna.

Anticipating a high volume of passengers, especially during the coming Holy Week, RRCG president Roberto S. Torres said they are hoping that the DOE keep an eye on Pilipinas Shell's daughter station in Mamplasan, Laguna.

"Historically, the daughter station encounters all kinds of problems at times when we need the CNG supply most," Torres said in a statement.

With the continuous increase in prices of diesel and the recent increase in toll fees, bus operators seek a little relief from compressed natural gas, which is priced way lower compared with the current prices of diesel.

Since the start of 2011, prices of petroleum products have risen 11 times which translate to plus P7.50 per liter for gasoline and P7.70 per liter for diesel, bringing diesel prices to within P46 to P47 per liter. CNG is currently sold at P18.38 per kilogram.

In 2004, the government issued Executive Order 290 which paved the way for the implementation of the Natural Gas Vehicle Program for Public Transport. The original target is to have 200 CNG buses plying the Batangas-Manila route by 2006 and 2,000 CNG buses supported by 10 CNG refueling stations by 2007.

There are about 60 CNG buses already in the Philippines, with one daughter station which has been hit with all sorts of troubles since its commencement in 2008.

Movenpick Resort and Spa Cebu Formerly the Hilton Resort Hotel

Movenpick Resort and Spa Cebu, formerly the Hilton Resort Hotel, has set aside P100 million for the renovation of the hotel in Lapu-Lapu City, Mactan Island, an executive said.

Oikonomous International Resources Corp. chairman Manny Osmena said the renovation of the hotel and the two residential towers will be implemented in three months but it will not get in the way of their daily operations.

"We will do these in phases so as not to disturb the guests. We have to plan this properly so they will not be affected," Osmena said.

Osmena and Movenpick director of business development Helmut Gaisberger introduced the Movenpick brand to the local media.

Movenpick assumed management of the Oikonomous property after the management contract with Hilton Worldwide ended last March 31.

Osmena said the partnership with Movenpick was similar to a "whirlwind romance," saying the negotiations happened quickly.

"It was so fast, I could not believe it," he said. He said it began when he was trying to work out some projects outside of the Philippines.

Though the original contract with Hilton was for them to manage the hotel and condominiums for 15 years, he said Oikonomous and Hilton agreed to the termination "very mutually."

The contract with Movenpick is also good for 15 years.

Osmena admitted that he did not talk to condominium residents about the change in management, but assured that 99 percent of the residents were satisfied with how the condominium is run.

Philippine Trade Flow 2011

The total value of commodities traded within the country rose by 7.6 percent to P119.33 billion in the fourth quarter of last year from P110.95 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009, the National Statistics Office (NSO) said Friday.

Trade transaction through water amounted to P118 billion, higher by 7.1 percent compared to P110.1 billion in 2009.

The total value of trade transaction through air amounted to P1.3 bilion in the fourth quarter last year from P840.9 million.

The NSO said food and live animals contributed the largest among the commodities that were transacted throughout the country in the fourth quarter amounting to P34.73 billion.

This was followed by machinery and transport equipment with P26.85 billion; mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials, P16.33 billion; and animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes, P1.37 billion.

During the period, most of the traded commodities originated from Central Visayas with value of domestic trade amounting to P17.81 billion, followed by Western Visayas, P16.64 billion; Eastern Visayas, P16.62 billion; National Capital Region (NCR), P16.40 billion; and Cagayan Valley, P156,000.

NSO also said that domestic trade transactions dropped by 20.7 percent to 4.37 million tons in the fourth quarter last year from 5.51 million tons in the same period in 2009.

Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) Performance - Stocks Go Higher

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSE) inched higher Friday, finishing at 4,241.01 and advancing by 21.58 points or 0.51 percent from the previous day.

Value turnover reached P4.64 billion. Gainers outnumbered decliners at 66 to 51, while 57 stocks were unchanged.

Sub-indices industrial, holding firms, property and services counters were in green while financial and mining/oil counters signified weak trading.

The market rose for the third consecutive day, led by premium stocks of EDC, ICTSI, First Gen, URC, Ayala Land, Globe Telecom, Ayala Corp., SM Prime and DMCI, AGI, Aboitiz Power, Metro Pacific Investments, SM Investments.

Some of the losers were PLDT, Metrobank and Aboitiz Equity Ventures. (PNA)

Asean to Build Infrastructure Projects

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states will launch an infrastructure fund later this year to finance infrastructure projects in the region, the Jakarta Post daily quoted an official as saying on Friday.

The acting head of the Indonesian Finance Ministry's fiscal policy department, Bambang Brodjonegoro, said Thursday that the 450 to 480 million U.S. dollars infrastructure fund would be launched in September this year, with Indonesia contributing 120 million dollars, the second-largest amount.

"We need leverage to fund infrastructure projects. Indonesia could obtain higher funding for projects than what we contribute," he said on the sidelines of the 15th ASEAN Finance Ministers' meeting at the Laguna Hotel in Nusa Dua of Bali province.

"The formation of the (infrastructure fund) body will be done in September. All ASEAN states have agreed and contributed to the formation of the fund and they agreed that this is an important issue for the region," Brodjonegoro said, adding that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) would also contribute to the fund.

Malaysia is the biggest contributor with 150 million dollars, followed by Indonesia and the ADB, whose contribution was not specified.

South Korea Explores Minerals in Tonga, Pacific

South Korea has launched its deepwater exploration of minerals in the seabed off the Pacific island of Tonga, the land and maritime affairs ministry said Friday.

A 7,487-ton icebreaker and research ship, Araon, and a remotely operated vehicle were deployed to conduct the work, which is currently under way in the economic exclusive zone (EEZ) of Tonga, according to the ministry.

The exploration comes after the South Korean government acquired a license for so-called seafloor massive sulfides from the government of Tonga in March 2008. The project attracted about 15 billion won (US$ 13.8 million) in investment from five local companies.

Seafloor massive sulfides are polymetallic sulfide deposits containing various metals, such as copper, lead, zinc and gold, and are found in hydrothermal waters along the seabed.

The government has conducted underwater exploration three times in the area since it obtained the license, the ministry said.

Imported Diesel for Power Generation

Five Pacific nations, which rely heavily on imported diesel for power generation, are expected to reduce their fossil fuel consumption with the help of a technical assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and its partners.

The ADB Board of Directors recently approved a technical assistance of around US$ 12.4 million under the Promoting Energy Efficiency in the Pacific (Phase 2) to help consumers use power more efficiently in the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu.

"Paying for imported fossil fuels places a major strain on local economies and trade balances," said Robert Kesterton, Energy Specialist of ADB's Pacific Department. "The volatility and high level of oil-based fossil fuel prices is a threat to the ongoing social, economic, and environmental development and sustainability of these countries."

The financing will help stakeholders gain comprehensive information on energy use by sector and appliance, mainstream energy efficiency programs into government processes and policies, improve the implementation of energy efficiency programs, and raise public awareness on the benefits of energy conservation.

The technical assistance is financed by a US$ 1 million grant from the ADB's Technical Assistance Special Fund; US$ 5.25 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF); US$ 1 million from the Government of Australia, coordinated through the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility; and US$ 1.5 million from the Asian Clean Energy Fund under the Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility (CEFPF). The participating governments will provide US$ 2.047 million and the power utilities will provide US$ 1.62 million in non-cash contributions.

Worldwide Camera Phone Sales

A latest research has shown that worldwide camera phone sales, driven by fast growing high-tier camera phone market, will top one billion units for the first time in 2011.

According to the study by Strategy Analytics, a global independent research and consulting firm, sales of camera phones are projected to grow by 21 percent from 918 million units last year to 1.114 billion units in 2011, which will be the first time that annual volumes of camera phones have exceeded the one-billion mark.

"The fastest growing segment of the camera phone market will be the high-tier. We forecast camera phones with sensors of eight megapixels and above to grow a healthy 240 percent worldwide during 2011," Neil Mawston, director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement on Thursday.

He added that smartphone vendors, such as Nokia and HTC, are increasingly loading their flagship models with more megapixels to deliver improved imaging quality for premium operator services.

Statistics from Strategy Analytics show that some 4.2 billion camera phones have been sold worldwide since 2000. (PNA/Xinhua)