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Closet billionaires . . . or corporate dummies?

[Published June 21, 2015]

Third of a Series

Part 1: The Indonesian billionaires behind the ‘MVP Group’

Part 2: Indonesian tycoon skirts Charter limits through corporate layers

Part 4: The smartest investors … or the most valuable puppets?

The Salim conglomerate in the Philippines, aka the “MVP” group, has five executives who are the Indonesian billionaire Anthoni Salim’s Filipino partners, their identities heretofore kept hidden from the public eye.

With the enormous income and share prices of the conglomerate’s subsidiaries, mainly Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), the mammoth holding firm, Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and Meralco, these five executives could be the country’s closet billionaires.

Or they could be merely corporate dummies who help portray the fiction that the conglomerate is a Filipino entity, which, therefore, can go into public utility firms.

You decide what they are.

Except for the high-profile Manuel V. Pangilinan, 68 — who has been portrayed as controlling, or even owning the conglomerate that is known by his name’s initials – you mostly probably haven’t heard of them. Until now.

Surprisingly, these four executives are just third-tier executives in the hierarchy of the Salim empire in the country:

  • Alfredo Panlilio, 52, senior vice president for Customer Retail Services and Corporate Communications of Manila Electric Co.
  • Victorico Vargas, 62, president of Maynilad Water Services;
  • Rene Bañez, 59, senior vice president, Supply Chain, Asset Protection and Management Group of PLDT;
  • Lourdes Rausa-Chan, 61, PLDT senior vice president for Corporate Affairs and Legal Services, chief governance officer, and corporate secretary.
Indonesian tycoon Salim’s Filipino partners, and the market value of their indirectly held shares in PLDT and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. – if they are really the owners of the key firms, that is.
Indonesian tycoon Salim’s Filipino partners, and the market value of their indirectly held shares in PLDT and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. – if they are really the owners of the key firms, that is.

Together with Pangilinan, they are the stockholders of a firm named Pacific Enterprise Management Corp. (PEMH). Their respective percentage shares in the firm are shown in Table 1.

This firm is the sole Filipino partner of Salim, through subsidiaries of First Pacific Co. Ltd., which he controls, in a shell company named Pilipinas Pacific Enterprise Holdings. This company is at the apex of corporate layers that represent the investors in the Indonesian billionaire’s Philippine empire.

The Pangilinan-Panlilio-Vargas Group?

The company chairman is Pangilinan, who also chairs and is the sole representative of all five intermediate firms that are the corporate layers for Salim’s control of PLDT and MPIC. He is the biggest stockholder of the firm with a 29 percent stake.

Surprisingly, though – considering that Pangilinan has been the conglomerate’s public face, and that many thought he was its controlling stockholder so that it was called the “MVP Group” – the amount of shares of the next biggest stockholders, Panlilio and Vargas, aren’t too far from his: 24 percent each. (Bañez and Rausa-Chan have 11 percent each.)

Also unexpected is that the PEMH president is a relatively young Panlilio, the youngest of the group, but who is, in effect, Pangilinan’s right-hand man. Vargas is vice president, while Bañez is treasurer. So if the group just had to have a Filipino name, instead of “Salim Group,” perhaps more appropriate would have been “PPV Group,” after the initials of the three biggest individual stockholders of the conglomerate, next to Salim.

However, Rausa-Chan isn’t the shell firm’s corporate secretary, the post she has occupied in Salim’s flagship PLDT since the Indonesian tycoon acquired it in 1998. That post is held by lawyer Alex Erlito Fider, a partner of the Picazo Buyco Tan Fider & Santos law firm. Fider is also corporate secretary of five other firms belonging to the Salim conglomerate.
It is PEMH that allows Salim to skirt the constitutional ban on foreign controlled public-utility enterprises.

That is undertaken by having this shell company own 60-percent of Pilipinas Pacific Enterprise Holdings (PPEH), with the remaining 40 percent held by a subsidiary of First Pacific Enterprise Holdings B.V., a Netherlands-based subsidiary of Salim’s Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co., Ltd.

Since it is 60 percent owned by PEMH, whose stockholders are the five Filipinos, PPEH is classified as a “Philippine corporation.”

The chain of corporate layers below PPEH – Enterprise Investment Holdings (EIH), Metro Pacific Holdings, Inc., Metro Pacific Resources, Inc., and Metro Pacific Asset Holdings – are all classified as Philippine firms, which, therefore, can own public utility firms. (See accompanying chart.)

The reason why Salim had to have several corporate layers to invest in PLDT and MPIC, even if PPEH is already masked as a Philippine corporation and, therefore, technically allowed to control public utilities, is that each layer further dilutes the Filipino stockholders’ shares, and inversely increases his holding for near-absolute control.

Thus, while PPEH is 60 percent controlled by the five executives, its share is reduced to 36 percent in EIH, 21.6 percent in Metro Pacific Holdings (the corporate investor in Metro Pacific), 13 percent in Metro Pacific Resources (one of the two investors in PLDT), and 8 percent in Metro Pacific Asset Holdings (the second investor in PLDT through Philippine Telecommunications Investment Corp.)

On the other hand, Salim’s holdings inversely grow from 78 percent, 87 percent, to 92 percent, respectively, in the three firms for his uncontested control of these firms, even as they are classified as “Philippine corporations,” thanks to PEMH’s role in the layers.

The all-Filipino firm PEMH’s economic interest in PLDT is reduced to 2.2 percent, and that in MPIC to 12.1 percent. That of the Indonesian tycoon is 23.4 percent in PLDT and 43.7 percent in MPIC – if the Filipinos in PEMH actually own the shares registered to them, that is.

Salim, with these shares, has an uncontested control of the two firms, since the remaining shares are dispersed among thousands of investors in the stock market, though none of them owns more than 1 percent.

And our stupid lawmakers, and even such purportedly professional organization of economists such as the Foundation for Economic Freedom, are pushing for the lifting of the country’s purported restrictions on foreign investments! What naiveté.

Biggest individual stockholders

The stockholders of PEMH make them the biggest individual stockholders of both PLDT and Metro Pacific, because of their indirect holdings, as shown in Table 1.


Source: The firms’ reports to US and Philippine SECs. (Percentages rounded off)
Source: The firms’ reports to US and Philippine SECs. (Percentages rounded off)

Their shares are much larger, for instance, than the second biggest individual stockholder (after Pangilinan) in PLDT’s reports, Albert and Gretchen del Rosario, who together have only 0.1 percent, according to the PLDT’s figures submitted to the US and Philippine SECs.

These percentage ownership figures certainly aren’t just of academic interest.

The billions of pesos of profits from PLDT and MPIC (especially from its very profitable monopoly Meralco) are distributed to the ultimate owners, based on their direct and indirectly owned shares, while the shares themselves are worth billions in the stock market.

Based on data reported by First Pacific in its annual reports from 2000-2014, that its share of profits from PLDT totaled $2.2 billion, and from MMPIC, $378 million, the current stock market prices of PLDT and MPIC, and indirect shares of the five Filipino executives, I computed their income and market of value of shares they hold as shown in Table 2.


(Percentages rounded off)
(Percentages rounded off)

The figures are gargantuan, making them the country’s closet billionaires – if they are really the stockholders, that is.

I doubt very much, though, if they really received these shares of profits, or else they would have appeared since 2000 in the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s top taxpayers’ list. I’m also astonished why they would still be working eight to 10 hours at Salim’s conglomerate, when they could just rely on their share of even just PLDT and Meralco’s profits.

On Wednesday I will discuss who on earth are Panlilio, Vargas, Bañez, and Chan to Salim that they became his partners. I will also discuss the obvious question: Are they really billionaires with their indirect holdings in one of the country’s largest conglomerates, or are they just dummies, their purported shares in reality held by Salim?


I had sent emails, as far back as several weeks ago, to all the Salim group officials mentioned in this article, requesting their comment on the points raised in this piece. I wasn’t even given the courtesy of any form of reply. I had also informed certain people close to Pangilinan and Panlilio that I had sent them such emails.

I am grateful to my colleague, columnist Emeterio Perez, for sharing with me crucial information for this article.

Part 1: The Indonesian billionaires behind the ‘MVP Group’

Part 2:Indonesian tycoon skirts Charter limits through corporate layers

Part 4: The smartest investors … or the most valuable puppets?

FB: Bobi Tiglao

This Post Has 43 Comments

  1. Roberta

    Good Article Mr. Tiglao. You are Fair, Truly Analytical on this one

  2. Ethelwaldo A. Maandig

    Thank You Mr. Tiglao for your article. I can see now a dawn of light for prosperity of the PHILIPPINES. Shame to this bunch of PUPPETS.

  3. Basil 8

    Don’t you think that–now he has achieved control of Philippines public assets via his shell companies–Salim also is adamantly against loosening of foreign-investment laws? He doesn’t want the competition, e.g. the blockade against Telstra.

  4. nimrod

    The first investigation in aid of legislation job for senators trillanes and delima is to investigate these Anthoni Salim puppets…..

  5. Paul Solda

    Our citizenry need jobs, our economy need investments…the 60/40 limitation is a stumbling block to the country’s march to progress. This barrier benefits only the local oligarch and not the masses. We should not put limits to the inflow of foreign capitals. The only thing that needs protection and limitation is owning of lands and extraction of the country’s natural resources which only to Filipinos have the rights..

    1. Jim Gomez

      Not all industries have the same restriction on Foreign ownership. Insurance allows for 100% ownership as does Light Manufacturing, utilities allows for 60/40, Telco 40/60 while Media doesn’t allow any at all. It depends on the sector and industry.

      Besides, name me a country who was no restrictions whatsoever on Foreign ownership in companies? FYI, we patterned our investment laws after other countries and majority have similar restrictions on Foreign ownership.

      The real reason why Foreign Investors won’t pour more capital into the Philippines is because of the following:

      1. High cost of labor (believe it or not we have higher wages vs other developing countries)
      2. Too many pro-labor laws (no labor only sub-contracting, 13th month pay, maternity leave, etc.)
      3. Too much “red tape” involved in applying for permits and licenses
      4. High corporate income tax
      5. No “tax holiday” for Foreign Investors

      The Foreign ownership of corporations law was never a deterrent to Foreign investors. Believe you me, give them a 2 year Tax Holiday and they will come in like cockroaches (and they will also leave like rats jumping off a sinking ship once their two years are up).

  6. @ochoa

    ang tanong, are they paying the right taxes?

  7. boyet m.

    People who dont like to see the SalimGroup/ Metro Pacific in the Philippines have only 2 things to do, either buy their controlling shares or just shut up.

    The 60/40% Filipino ownership law should be removed in our constitution long ago. Only our spanish oligarchs & taipans benefit from this law

    1. Basil 8

      …and Indonesian billionaires.

  8. Frank Pinoso

    I’m not surprised with this article. I’ve seen Al Panlilio follow MVP around wherever he goes. Maybe they are bum buddies

    1. M C

      Hijo, ang papel ni Mr. Alfredo ay para din papel ni Mr. N. Chong sa mga LGTB. Mas malaki nga ang kita ng mga kagaya ni Mr. N Chong at mga Bench Boys sa isang gabi ng pagawit sa mikropono kaysa sa pagarte sa pelikula. Tanungin si Mr. Dee Vencia, tsarot.

  9. Frank Pinoso

    I’m not surprised with this article. I’ve seen Al Panlilio follow MVP around wherever he goes. Maybe they are bum buddies

  10. Grace Cabanganan

    In this day and age of globalization, this article to put it mildly, Xenophobic! That’s where Nazism began you know.

    1. kagbalete

      They are still in violation of the law…

  11. juancho ramas

    Henares won’t touch these guys with a 10foot pole…they are BIG election contributors!

  12. Craig

    Do you not think the laws restricting the access to shareholding by foreigners is futile? Supposed exposure of the pyramidding to circumvent the 40/50 rule is a shame.

    While everyone complains, Indonesian money has propped up PLDT, Meralco, Maynilad etc etc. Important corporates in the scheme of Filipino things. Either they are owned by government puppets using money or foreign owned with Filipino puppets.

    Should the Filipino government allow him access, I bet the pyramids will collapse making a “cleaner” corporate structure and PLDT, Meralco and Maynilad will have direct access to his capital and better improvement to the workings of these companies.

    I is clear that true Filipino billionaires do not have an interest in recapitalising these companies, or they are few. So it is clear the Filipino market is starved for capital. Now because they need to add technical skill too – it has become lacking.

    I say cancel the 40/60 restriction and make capital flow.

    It is an antequated rule that should have been abandoned in the 80’s already

    1. Maya Aldaba

      right you are, The thing in 1987 leftists in the constitutional convention closed our economy even as China and Vietnam opened theirs. Today Vietnam has outpaced us in terms of attracting FDI and China? The proof is in the tikoy.

  13. Red

    Calling the attention of SaKIM Henares, LIEla dilemma, THRILLanes, etc. Investigate NOW NA!

  14. Manuel C. Diaz

    Why don’t the SEC also look at the ownership structure of Philex Mines!

  15. ren fuentes

    this is the reason why lolo sb has been very active and supportive of cha cha. do not forget that he sold majority of his family’s share to salim in phil. star group. lolo sb wants to make salim’s investment legal. baka may kondisyon yung benta na pag nabuko ay sauli ang pera.

  16. M C

    Yan ba yun Alex na kasapi ngkapatirang Alay sa Sambayanan? Kun sya nga yan, isa ngang malaking alay yan sa bayan – ang panggagago ng saligang batas. At dahil may dalawa yata kasasi ng kapatirang yan sa senado, malamang na di na rin maimbestigahan yan. Pero pwede rin pagkakitaan yan ng iba pang senador ng campaign funds.

  17. Jack Bauer

    Ehh, why are you against foreign investments and foreign ownership of companies? If you (the Philippines) want to play with the grown ups, you also have to offer a level playing field and follow international rules and practices. First world countries do of course allow foreign ownership of companies and in most cases also in critical industries. This brings in necessary capital and new knowledge. And more importantly, this requires local companies to be competitive, to provide world-class products and services. So not allowing foreign ownership just means that you are afraid of competition and would rather stay behind then grown up. Your choice.

  18. William dungo

    Mr tiglon can you please keep commenting on this issue will be notice by the Malacanyan, congress, senate and Supreme Court, and the Pilipino open their on the truth what this crooks are doing to the small Pilipino people. And senate and congress investigate their business strategy in the Philippines and charge the monopoly and anti trust violation just like Europe did to big American company (Microsoft goggles) charge them with the anti trust lawsuit.

  19. Amnata Pundit

    What is the difference between Salim and the Spaniards Ayalas and Aboitizes, the Chinese Tans, Sys and Gokongweis? The only difference is he is not a Filipino citizen. If he opts to become a Filipino citizen, that will erase all the objections in this article, and it will not be the first time a multi-billionaire of any country will change his citizenship for convenience. These super-rich people are loyal only to their money, not to their country. If this happens, it will provide MVP with the PR coup of the decade which he can use to run for president. Since they have all the money to bribe Comelec/Smarmatic, they can capture Malacanang and for the first time we will have a suit wearing first lady who looks like Bradd Pitt. This will be the latest attraction in the never ending freak show that is the EDSA yellow regime.

  20. Tom

    Only in the Philippines. Critical industries are controlled by foreigners. These corporate faces are traitors abetted of course by the greedy politicians

    Only in the Philippines.

  21. Manuel Jaime jr

    Who is the culprit behind all this things happening to our public utilities? Cory and Ramos.These firms before were all government bureaus.Former President Marcos nationalized Meralco for the benefit of the public,as well as MWSS,PLDT,NAPOCOR,the North and South Luzon Expressways,Petron,PAL,CDCP which is now the Philippine Construction Corp.,LRT and so forth and so on.Even the deregulation of the oil industry and the dismantling of the OPSF(Oil Price Stabilization Fund) had been waywarded by this two former Presidents.The main reason why we have this up and down cycle of oil prices in the country.Almost all of the Philippines public utilities put up by Marcos have been sold and are the main milking cow of the greedy corporations that have acquired it to the detriment of the poor filipino public.GREED,sheer greed is behind it all.Since Marcos’ fall,THIEVES in various forms and disguises have penetrated government and i am in awe at how the Ombudsman is letting this crooks get away via the Chief Executive’s magic wand…

    1. Manuel C. Diaz

      The kleptocrat Marcos nationalized Meralco to favor the Romualdez group Same magnanakaw as the lopez group!

  22. Francisco Sevilla

    Send the shock troopers of PNOT, the AMLAC (Anti Money Laundering Council) to investigate these people.

    1. lugi koh

      come on! the amlac is there not to protect anybody or anything but to make money…

  23. angel

    This is the kind of nationalism we need.

  24. Robert Balmes

    I am waiting for the complete and full articles on these corporations and see what will be the reactions of the so-called great economists and other concerned government officials, That is, if what Mr. Tiglao has written has been known to them since and they just don’t care.

  25. Leodegardo Pruna

    Let us hope that Amb. Tiglao would not succumb to whatever offer from these people would be because for sure there will be. God bless the Philippines.

  26. Johnny Ramos

    The control of Anthony Salim on our utilities companies are only good during his lifetime and assuming that other siblings does not contest his leadership over the family ownership. Remember there was a time the Ayalas and the Soriano have full control of San Miguel Corporation before and when Enrique Zobel broke the control by selling Ayala shares to Danding Cojuangco they lost the duck that lay the golden egg for them. The investment of MVP group on TV 5 have been bleeding their resources plus the tremendous expenses on the love of MVP on basketball teams are not giving any returns on their investment. This huge conglomerate could fall anytime especially they are heavily finance by several financing institution. They are not really that liquid since they became big by accumulation of loans and one sudden default on amortization they could take a big time hit to the bottom.

    1. M C

      They need those basketball teams and losses at TV5 as cover for “losses” as a tax avoidance scheme. Sometimes, you need to file a police report that you were robbed to justify losses incurred next time you file your income tax return.

    2. lugi koh

      mvp’s love for basketball players….

    3. Supsupin

      I see loans from RP bank taken by this conglo…this is think where the anomaly begins. Did the banks where the loans were taken made due diligence audit of the loans proceeds were used as intended? My theory is the proceeds were in DOSRI accounts, used to pay dividends, and other covenant violations. Were the ratio maintenance observed as called for?

      I think the local banks are also sleeping…proceed with the due diligence audit and if there are violations, then have the loan in default and immediately ask for the loan payment. Let me see if this MVP conglo is as good as it says…☻☻♣☺

  27. Leodegardo Pruna

    Trillanes and company should look into the matter of this issue. Or, are they takers as well. Not bad to earn money the right way but when laws are violated and proper obligations for doing business ignored either by shielding such income, then let hell break loose on them. God bless the Philippines.

  28. Felimon A. Soria

    How about the Sec. of Justice the Hon. De Lima looking into this? We seem to close our eyes when rich and powerful people are involved and then we have nerve to complain after we are stringed by the neck.

  29. Migs Doromal

    Al Panlilio is MVP’s boyfriend.

    1. Jim Gomez

      Where MVP goes you can bet that right beside or behind him is good old Al

  30. William Tubig Dungo

    why not investigate these crooks on the senate floor. they put a dirty mask on their face to show they are real Pilipino crooks they rob the ordinary people by controlling the price basic daily needs of ordinary Pilipino. Electrcity, water, gas, food, transportation and so on. They monopolies the prices. Mga pilipinong traitor sa taong bayan at tuta nang mga fmalaysiad chinese investot.

  31. I Remember...

    People kill for money, other sells their body for sexual activities and others might make false statements….

    The 5 don’t look like the creators of goodwill and of Rizal’s followers.

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