Thursday, 22 December 2011

Jollibee Buying Into Restaurant Chain
$60-M Investment
Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines — Jollibee Foods Corporation, through wholly-owned Singapore unit JSF Investments Pte. Ltd., has formally initiated its plan to invest $60 million in the southeast Asian restaurant business of the SuperFoods Group.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Jollibee said it is acquiring a 50 percent stake in the business of the SuperFoods Group consisting of a 49 percent share in SF Vung Tau Joint Stock Company of Vietnam and a 60 percent interest in Blue Sky Holdings Limited of Hong Kong.

The SuperFoods Group owns and operates various brands, including Highlands Coffee Shops in Vietnam, Highlands Coffee Packaged Products, and Hard Rock Café franchised stores in Macau, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

Very recently, the SuperFoods Group also acquired the Pho 24 brand and restaurants which have presence in Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Cambodia and Japan. The annual sales of the SuperFoods Group amount to about $30 million.

Highlands Coffee serves Vietnamese coffee and light meals in trendy coffee shops and sells packaged coffee through retail outlets. Pho 24 serves traditional Vietnamese dishes with rice noodles as its core product.

Jollibee and its prospective partner Viet Thai International Joint Stock Company (VTI) aims to offer Asian mass consumers high quality coffee and café experience at affordable prices through Highlands Coffee Shops and Highlands Packaged Products.

They also aim to serve the Asian mass consumers high quality Vietnamese food at affordable prices through the Pho 24 brand and restaurants.

Jollibee also plans to serve Highlands Coffee in the restaurants of its various brands in order to upgrade the quality of its coffee at prices its consumers can afford.

Currently, Highlands has 54 stores in Vietnam while Pho 24 has 48 restaurants in Vietnam, 11 in Indonesia, 4 in Hong Kong, 3 in Tokyo, Japan, 1 in Cambodia and 2 in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, franchising rights for operating Highlands Coffee Shops was granted to IP Ventures.

The subscription to 50 percent of the business of SuperFoods will be an implementation of an earlier agreement under which Jollibee will invest $25 million for half of the SuperFoods business and a $35 million loan to VTI. It also advanced $5 million to SuperFoods. (JAL)

On taking personal responsibility

Business Mirror

IN the aftermath of the Sendong flooding, literally millions of people have opened their hearts and wallets to those affected by this massacre of life and property.

However, the finger-pointing to non-existent climate change, Pagasa’s inability to adequately perform its mandate, and the government’s lack of “disaster preparedness” points to a truth no one is willing to admit. The government cannot protect the people.

In 2008 I wrote a column, titled “Who is responsible for our lives?” about the maritime tragedy when bad weather sank a ship, killing hundreds.

Then also, the blame game dominated the discussion. The ship was allowed to leave port by the Coast Guard, Pagasa underestimated the severity of the weather, and the captain perhaps put schedule before safety. But the blame was put on the “government” rather than the passengers taking responsibility for getting on a ship in very bad weather.

Certainly, Sendong is a completely different set of circumstances, with people dying in their beds from the rains. But still, we tend to look to an outside authority for our protection, even when experience tells us time and time again, that protection is weak at best and non-existent at the worst.

Albert Einstein said, “Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will, his power, his personal responsibility.”

The New Year is right around the corner. What is your financial plan? Or are you relying on the government to protect and prosper you?

Let me tell you a secret. The government, even when staffed and led by the most wonderful, loving, honest public servants, does not care about you. The government, like every other institution, lives only for its own survival.

You, even the good person that you are, would not sacrifice your family for mine any more than I would forfeit my family to save yours.

We must take responsibility for our own lives because no one, no institution is going to protect or prosper us.

Are you making financial plans based on what the government says that it is going to do for the economy in 2012? Are you really that foolish?

The common socialist thinking is that no one can prosper himself/herself unless the government helps. The other side of that is one person cannot become wealthier because the already wealthy keeps the lower economic groups down. When that kind of thinking takes hold, personal responsibility is gone and we become dependent as Einstein says on our “environment,” whether that environment is the government or others.

If you want to be wealthier, you must do it yourself.

I received this e-mail yesterday, requesting a copy of my stock-market analysis. This man, Jovy, is the clearest example of what I am trying to say.

“I discovered your column around six months after I started investing in March 2009. I have been following you since then.

My interest started around 1998 when my father gave me shares in Petron, which he bought around 1994/5. I thought, what do I do with this thing and started studying/reading about the stock market since 1998 by buying secondhand books.

I was casually following the stock market already when 2008 happened, and all I’ve read made me feel strong that it was the time to invest and did so starting March 2009. Starting small with just a couple of thousand pesos and buying more incrementally. When I saw that what I read in books was starting to unravel, I went all in with the wedding gift I and my wife received in 2007. I think I doubled that amount or more. I built a small concrete house here in Bicol with that money, my trophy.”

This man started investing just as the stock market was taking off, based on his own analysis reading secondhand books. He took responsibility for his personal financial future and look at his words: “My trophy.”

While others were complaining about the “PSE Casino” and the “Old-Boys’ Club,” Jovy was making money to build himself a house. And those Petron shares his father gave him? Remember the majority of Petron’s initial public offering was allocated to the Small Investor Program with the buying limit being P5,000.

Next year is going to be difficult, perhaps very difficult. Every quarter when economic expectations have not been fulfilled, the people are going to blame the government and the government is going to blame the environment.

But there will be another group that will not be listening. They will be too busy making money, taking personal responsibility.

On a personal note, I would like to send you a complimentary copy of this week’s PSE Strategy Guide from Please e-mail me at with your request. Merry Christmas.


E-mail to and Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by Inc.

Filipino wins National Geographic photo contest

George Tapan's photo was chosen among 2,000 entries. Read more here:

Author Gordon Chang: Wheels Are Coming Off China’s Economy Read more: Author Gordon Chang: Wheels Are Coming Off China’s Economy Important: Can you afford to Retire? Shocking Poll Results

Read it here:

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Stateside: Ron Paul rising

Come to the Philippines!


Cebu Pacific Puts On A Christmas Show In The Skies

James Hookway
Wall Street Journal
Read article:

Energy OKs 1,000 MW of hydropower projects

by Alena Mae S. Flores
Manila Standard

The Energy Department has signed large and mini-hydropower project contracts with a combined generation capacity of over 1,000 megawatts.

“I’ve signed over a thousand megawatts of hydropower and mini-hydropower project contracts. In the past few months, we continue to release and sign contracts in areas where it really works,” Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said.

Almendras also dismissed criticisms that the department was not issuing renewable energy contracts.

“The problem before, the DoE just kept on releasing service contracts without fixing the peripheral issues. But now we’re trying to make sure that if you have service contracts, [you have] the chance of getting that project off the ground,” he said.

The department had 191 pending hydropower applications totaling 3,592.87 MW, followed by solar with 70 applications for projects totaling 537 MW.

Fifty-nine applied for wind power development projects with a generation capacity of 1,431 MW. Ocean energy received 21 applications equivalent to 60 MW while geothermal power development got 15 proposals to produce a combined 230 MW.

Condolences and prayers for the victims of Sendong

We are one with you in prayer and sorrow.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Don’t count on anyone but PHL

Business Mirror

THE comments coming from the government as to what is going to propel the Philippine economy in the next 12 months seem largely disconnected from reality.

On one hand, the government fully intends to speed up spending to “stimulate” the economy. In my column a few weeks ago, “2011: A wasted year,” I said that the year was wasted by a government that spent its time trying to figure out what to do and then doing nothing.

Now the government is rushing in (supposedly) to make up for what has not happened in the last 12 months.

My friend Boo Chanco in his Philippine Star column yesterday, titled “Govt spending alone won’t do it,” is partially correct. An economy cannot rely on stimulus spending for growth. Just ask the US.

However, government spending in a country like the Philippines does have a much greater economic effect for growth than in more developed countries. Further, in a small economy such as the size of the Philippines, the synergy of private spending, coupled with public spending is much greater.

While the government is building the infrastructure, such as a new major highway, the private sector is putting up the commercial and residential developments along that highway.

The Aquino administration blew it in 2011 and they cannot make up for it now.

Think back a year ago. There were signs that the West, particularly the US, was beginning to stabilize. The fear of a default of Greece was months away. China’s stock market had not dropped 25 percent and its property prices were not down 50 percent.

There was enthusiasm in the Philippines that 2011 would be the year of the public-private partnership infrastructure projects.

Going into 2012, Europe is on the brink of disaster with no one really knowing whether there will even be a euro by 2013. China is looking at a sub 7-percent economic growth possibility, which is the same as zero for that nation.

Philippine businesses are cautious, particularly against the current political climate. Foreign investments into the country are worse than in 2010 and the growth of in-bound money flows from all sources is slowing.

Now in 2012, the government says it is ready to go full- speed ahead while the private sector is cautious and a bit worried. That is the type of bad timing that causes major economic problems.

Listening to recent comments from the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), I worry that perhaps they are reading reports and seeing data from 2010 and not 2011.

I was a little surprised to read this from Phil Star: “The retreat of Philippine exports that started last May has finally bottomed out. [Neda] expects the sector to bounce back by next year.”

Is Neda serious? Philippine exports in October fell an annual 14.6 percent and dropped again for the sixth- straight month. Electronic shipments, which make up nearly 50 percent of all exports, are down nearly 40 percent from 2010.

And where exactly is this “bounce back” going to come from?

People from the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (Citem) say the Philippines should export more furniture to China because of its real-estate boom. Good grief. Is anyone in the government aware of what’s going on? Property sales in Shanghai have fallen 70 percent since last year at this time. They do not need Filipino-made furniture.

Exports to the US, the second-biggest market, were down 12.8 percent from a year earlier. There is not going to be any “bounce back.”

The reality is that things are going to get worse in the West before they get better. Europe is facing a recession as well as a banking system failure. And the US? Let me share some facts with you.

A staggering 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty

There are fewer payroll jobs in the United States today than there were back in 2000 even though 30 million extra people have been added to the population since then.

The Federal Reserve recently announced that the total net worth of US households declined by 4.1 percent in the 3rd quarter of 2011 alone.

A higher percentage of Americans is living in extreme poverty (6.7 percent) than has ever been measured before.

From the BusinessMirror: “The total value of commodities traded within the country posted a 15-percent increase in the third quarter.” The only thing that is going to grow the Philippine economy is Filipinos.

On a personal note, I would like to send you a complimentary copy of this week’s PSE Strategy Guide from Please e-mail me at with your request. Merry Christmas.

E-mail to and Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by Inc.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Operator asks gov't OK to proceed with Skyway Stage 3

Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines — The operator of the Metro Manila Skyway System (Skyway) Sunday urged the government to allow it to proceed with the construction of the elevated expressway that will connect the North and South Luzon Expressways, even if another proposal for a connector road recently surfaced.

This, as the Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corporation (CMMTC), concessionaire of Skyway, said it is financially ready to finance the construction of Skyway Project Stage 3, which will run from the Buendia Exit of Skyway 2 to Balintawak in Quezon City, where the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) starts.

CMMTC officials earlier disclosed that it is ready with at least $1.5 billion to invest in infrastructure development in the Philippines. This will cover investment for Skyway Stage 3, which will cost about P22 to P24 billion and Skyway Stage 4 or C6, which will run from Parañaque to Antipolo, and will cost about P28 billion.

A source in the CMMTC said they are ready to undertake the project but the issuance of notice to proceed from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPHW) is getting in their way.

“We are financially ready to pursue the projects. We can even do the Skyway Stages 3 and 4 simultaneously but we do not have the notice to proceed yet,” the source said.

Industry sources said the delay is likely because of an alleged proposal by the Manila Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) to build a similar NLEx-SLEx connector road through an elevated road over the tracks of the Philippine National Railways and will run from Valenzuela to Buendia.

But a source from the CMMTC claimed MPTC’s 13.5-kilometer connector road is different from Skyway’s 14.2-kilometer Stage 3 since it will predominantly traverse the median of C3 Road and Araneta Avenue and cuts through the busy thoroughfares of Central Manila in Osmeña Highway, Quirino Avenue, Sta. Mesa, Araneta Ave. and A. Bonifacio Road.

The source dismissed the allegation that pursuing both the Skyway Stage 3 and the Connector Road will be redundant as it will cater different motoring markets.

“We don’t mind if government allows both CMMTC and MPTC to undertake their projects. It is even better for both projects to be implemented since it will be both beneficial to the motorists, without government spending for it,” he said.

The source said the government could no longer scrap the Skyway 3 project just because of the proposed Connector Road since it is part of the Skyway project concept approved by the government in 1995.