Phoenix continues phenomenal rise

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - April 17, 2021 - 12:00am

Businessman Dennis Uy’s Phoenix Petroleum seems to have had the last laugh.

A few years ago, doubters questioned his move to enter the LPG business when Phoenix, in 2017, acquired 100 percent of the shares of LPG seller Petronas Energy Philippines Inc. (PEPI), a subsidiary of Malaysian firm Petronas Dangan Berhad (PDB), as part of its aggressive three-year network expansion program.

At that time, it did not make business sense. After all, even its biggest competitors had evacuated the segment, apparently due to narrowing margins and operational difficulties.

The acquisition included the retailing business of LPG and lubes products from PEPI, which had been in the retail business for 20 years, selling bulk LPG in cylinders for industrial, household and commercial use, as well as environmental alternative fuels like autogas for vehicles. The acquisition of the Petronas LPG brand was then valued at around P6.27 billion and had received the go-signal from the Philippine Competition Commission.

Back in 2017, Uy said the acquisition was in line with the company’s growth plans and product portfolio, adding that they were impressed with PEPI’s level of excellence, professionalism, and adherence to the highest of global standards, compliant with the operating standards of Petronas, a Fortune 500 company.

PEPI has a combined storage capacity of 3,436 metric tons in four LPG terminals in the Philippines. It generates most of its sales in Visayas and Mindanao, so-called under-penetrated regions with increasing disposable income and attractive demand prospects. With the acquisition, Phoenix joined other established LPG suppliers, including Petron, Liquigaz, Isla LPG and South Pacific Inc.

With LPG considered a basic need for millions of Filipino households, the company saw volume grow 32 percent year-on-year by the end of 2020. Observers say that this has undeniably contributed to Phoenix’s performance last year when it posted a net income of P158 million in the last quarter and P63 million for the whole year.

Phoenix is aiming to build significant presence in the non-fuel segment, which currently accounts for about one percent of the company’s business. In 2017, it renamed PEPI into Phoenix LPG Philippines, Inc. In the same year, it established PNX Petroleum Singapore Pte. Ltd. as its regional trading and supply presence.

After launching its new Phoenix Super LPG brand in 2019, it further ventured overseas and saw the same potential for consumer market growth in similar developing economies like Vietnam. Last year, Phoenix reported three-fold volume growth in its overseas markets.

Company officials revealed that Phoenix has built a robust and fully integrated supply chain starting from its exclusive supply partnership with Brunei-based Hengyi Industries, to its very own dedicated regional trading unit, PNX Singapore. Phoenix is then able to bring in its LPG products through its four import terminals with bottling facilities, complemented by an additional two stand-alone bottling plants.

Phoenix is also able to leverage its strong retail fuel network to grow both B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) markets, along with innovations such as e-commerce especially for the B2C segment.

Its phenomenal rise to become the country’s leading independent oil company in just a span of 15 years, starting out as a family business in Davao City, is of course the kind of stuff every business dreams of. But the best is yet to come as the company aims to introduce more products, open more stations, and reach more regions here and abroad.

Solon seeks repurposing of hotels

House Deputy Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. (4th district) Jesus “Bong” Suntay recently filed a resolution seeking to use some hotels as treatment/isolation centers for patients suffering from mild COVID-19 symptoms.

In his resolution, Suntay said that the repurposing of the hotels and other accommodation facilities as alternative health facilities could contribute in mitigating the effects of the pandemic on the  medical sector, as infection rates continue to overwhelm healthcare facilities in the country.

The solon called on Congress to urge the President, under the powers vested in him by the Constitution, to direct the repurposing of inoperative hotels and other accommodation facilities to host mild COVID patients and/or other non-COVID patients in order to decongest hospitals in Metro Manila.

All of us have read and heard horror stories of people dying in hospital tents, hallways, vehicles, in their own homes, because our hospitals can no longer accommodate them. Many hospitals, especially in Metro Manila, have reached their capacity limit or are now running at critical level. Many times, we see posts on social media from our friends and acquaintances asking for help in looking for hospitals that can accommodate patients. Some have even extended their search to areas outside the metropolis.

Suntay quoted the Department of Health’s COVID bulletin which showed that over 79 percent of ICU beds, 72 percent of isolation beds, and 60 percent of ward beds in the National Capital Region are already occupied. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire has also said that ICUs at 14 of the 21 Metro Manila hospitals are at critical level.

The Quezon City solon said that with many hotels on lockdown, the repurposing would help mitigate the financial losses brought about by the closure of temporary residential facilities.

A group of doctors from the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) has also urged President Duterte to use some Metro Manila hotels as infirmary facilities to reduce the number of patients with COVID-19 in hospitals.

Suntay said that since 40 percent of patients admitted in hospitals are either asymptomatic or have mild cases of COVID, such patients should  be transferred to the repurposed hotels where doctors and medical frontliners could be assigned to care for them.

He cited the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which states that during a national emergency and when the public interest so requires, the State may temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest, subject to the limits enshrined in the Constitution.

There are, of course, hospitals that now offer home care for mild and moderate COVID-19 cases. There are also independent parties who can provide home care service by just downloading an app. But at this time of great need, Filipinos need all possible alternatives.



For comments, e-mail at mareyes@philstarmedia.com

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