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Two mid-level executives from Metro Pacific and Ayala are said to be responsible for turning their fierce competing principals into allies, culminating in Tuesday's watershed signing of a partnership between their respective chairmen, Manuel V. Pangilinan and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala.
One, Ferdinand Inacay, head of business development and special projects for Metro Pacific Investments, was seen in the photo release that appeared on Thursday in the front page of the Philippine Star.
His counterpart at Ayala, Noel Kintanar, was for some reason, though although present, was missing in the photograph. Strangely, despite his strategic position, Kintanar's name does not appear in the latest roster of officers that Ayala Corp. and Ayala Land both submitted to the regulatory authorities.
Inacay,on the other hand, joined Metro Pacific only in July 2010, after working for 14 years with Asian Terminals, managing international ports and inter-island passenger terminals.
Under the terms of alliance, Metro Pacific and Ayala will each own 50 percent of a new company that will bid for contracts to upgrade the three light rail systems in Metro Manila, with Metro Pacific as the captain for rail operations and Ayala, the partner in charge for the mall and related real estate developments in the train stations.
According to the grapevine, it was Kintanar and Inacay who initially met for coffee less than a year ago to discuss how the two conglomerates, which still have telecom interconnection issues to this day, could cooperate in the big-ticket privatization projects being farmed out by the P.Noy administration.
Metro Pacific and Ayala had earlier reached a first, tentative agreement in January 2010 when the two agreed to bid jointly for the Angat dam, only to subsume their venture under the Lopez-led First Gen Group, which unfortunately lost out in the bid.
Except for a brief news release, there was no Pangilinan-Zobel handshake in that 2010 venture. This time it was clearly different.
"MVP jokingly recalled his first meeting with JAZA, where he (MVP) had to pay for their food in JAZA's hotel," InterContinental, said a Pangilinan lieutenant, recounting Tuesday's signing ceremony at the Makati Shangri-La.
"MVP said he may have had scuffles in the past (with JAZA) but it's high time to change mindsets in order to push the country forward.
"JAZA, in turn, continued the good cheer by saying "how delighted he was to be working with Manny, considering they both practice high corporate governance standards."
o Newly retired PAL president Jaime Bautista will continue to stay on with the Lucio Tan Group, where he is the first choice for the presidency of the Tan-owned University of the East.
o Reyes Tacandong, the breakaway audit firm from SGV, has established a beachhead into the Ongpin Group with its appointment as external auditors of listed Atok-Big Wedge mining firm. Former finance secretary and SGV chairman Roberto V. Ongpin even made a Freudian slip in the succeeding Alphaland shareholders' meeting when he wondered aloud, "Aren't we nominating KPMG?," a query met with stolid silence by the SGV team in the audience.
Heard through the grapevine
With more and more of their businesses needing regulatory approvals in Manila, the Aboitizes of Cebu seriously plan to transfer their corporate headquarters in Makati. The transfer proposal should gain more clarity in the May 21 shareholders' meeting of the Aboitiz Equity Ventures.