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Concepcion: Private sector pitched investments during Marcos’ US visit

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star
Concepcion: Private sector pitched investments during Marcosâ US visit
Some of the country’s biggest businessmen accompanied President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., seen here at a dinner hosted by LT Group’s Michael Tan: (from left): China Bank Chairman Hans Sy, LT Group COO Lucio Tan III, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s George Barcelon, President Marcos, RFM Corp. and Go Negosyo’s Joey Concepcion, and LT Group President Michael Tan.

MANILA, Philippines — Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion yesterday underscored the private sector’s assistance in helping pitch investments to the Philippines during President Marcos’ recent working visit to the United States.

“The private sector was in full force during the three major business briefings during the visit,” said Concepcion, who also heads the jobs committee of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC), a group of leading businessmen directly advising the President.

“I think that the President’s winning the biggest mandate in Philippine history inspired the private sector to join in this bid to make the country a great investment destination. Likewise, it reflected in how the foreign investors were eager to connect with us, seeing how well-attended the briefings were and how the meetings were on time and went on as scheduled,” he added.

Among the highlights of Marcos’ visit was a high-level roundtable meeting organized by Asia Society Philippines chair Doris Magsaysay-Ho and vice chair Myla Villanueva last Friday, where some of the world’s largest private equity investors in aviation, big infrastructure, energy, fintech and payments, e-commerce and digital infrastructure were in attendance.

Ho made the introductions and Villanueva facilitated the discussions.

Among the investors present were former ambassador John Negroponte of McLarty Associates, Ken Mehlman of KKR, Andrew Thomas of Stonepeak, Mark Tatum of NBA, Dinesh Kanna of Boston Consulting, Michael Kirban of VitaCoco, Proof of Learn founder Shiela Marcelo, Asia Society trustee Asheet Mehta of McKinsey, Nick Rohatyn of The Rohatyn Group, Itai Lemberger of Bow Wave Capital, Brian Franke of Indigo Partners and Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai, who is also already invested in Mynt, or GCash.

Asia Society was instrumental in bringing in its network of investors, most of whom are already invested in the Philippines, and shared insights about opportunities as the new administration transforms the economy.

“This government has been very supportive of the private sector and public participation. The President is very keen to get the private sector involved and we are delighted with that,” Ayala Corp. chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said during the Public Economic Briefing held during Marcos’ visit.

Zobel added that it is now up to the private sector to maximize the favorable business environment under the Marcos administration.

“The President has quite cleverly gotten 30 of our country’s busiest CEOs to voluntarily work for him,” said Aboitiz CEO Sabin Aboitiz, who is also the convenor of the PSAC.

During the Asia Society event, Concepcion said the Philippines presents huge opportunities for foreign investors, especially in the area of public-private partnerships.

He noted that public-private partnerships have been met with success in the country.

As an example, he cited that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a private-public sector cooperation was crucial in securing vaccines, supporting mass testing and coordinating with enforced lockdowns.

He added that these opportunities include a chance to promote inclusive growth in the country through micro, small and medium enterprises, which comprise almost all of the enterprises in the Philippines.

“Our desire is to make this growth more inclusive; not just us, the big corporations, but the whole nation,” Concepcion said, stressing that large corporations must help small enterprises scale up.

“The opportunities in the Philippines are huge, and many still remain untapped. There may be a lot of headwinds, but we’re making progress,” he added.

Other private sector representatives at the Asia Society meeting included JG Summit CEO Lance Gokongwei and GCash president Martha Sazon.

The private meeting preceded the public address and discussion with Marcos, hosted by Asia Society president and former Australia prime minister Kevin Rudd.

Marcos and his economic managers have emphasized the important role of the private sector in the administration’s near- and medium-term agenda, and how it will support it through newly enacted liberalization laws and a healthy and productive workforce.

FERDINAND MARCOS JR.

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