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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Low interest rates favorable to business, says Ayala CEO Francisco Zobel de Ayala

Ayala CEO Fernando Zobel de Ayala credits government for low interest environment, among others

MANILA – As the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, most companies were on survival mode that made them attend to their own people and keep their businesses running.

This was how Ayala Corporation CEO Fernando Zobel de Ayala described the past year. Speaking at the Malacañang Press Briefing hosted by Secretary Harry Roque, Mr. Zobel de Ayala said the difficulties were not limited to their companies but to suppliers they rely on and other businesses which have become part of their conglomerates.

“So we really have to watch out for many people to make sure that they could survive this,” he said.

He added while it was really very rough during the worst part of the pandemic, a lot of business were fairly well-capitalized before the crisis set it.

He credited the government for its good efforts to be operating in what he described as “a fairly low interest environment” that made them raise their capital. He explained they really had to raise capital in the middle of the pandemic, “this was the comfort that banks and bondholders had, and investors had in the Philippines.”

Mr. Zobel de Ayala said they were able to borrow at record-low rates during the pandemic year.

Ayala Corporation will continue its investments as they invested about P157 billion last year in different types of capital expenditures in telecom, real estate, land and water.

“And next year, we may spend up to about P182 billion,” he added. He said if companies continue to invest and create jobs, they will be able to help people get out of the crisis despite the challenges, he underscored the need to continue “growing the engine of the economy.”

He expressed optimism the country will weather it through this year, provided however, there is no second wave.

“We are seeing around the world that everyone is being faced with the second wave. If we get the phase two, the second wave, the situation will be very different. But if we don’t, every month that passes has started to show better results in terms of consumer behavior, in terms of mobility, in terms of people expanding and investing again.” He further said.

He took note of the OFW remittances which “did not go down as much as we thought,” as it is a safety net for Filipinos in the country.

He concluded by saying he is “cautiously optimistic and hopeful” growth will take placed this year, a 5-6 percent which he went to describe as a very dramatic from that took place recently logical reasons.

Mr. Zobel de Ayala said the private sector decided to purchase 450,000 AstraZeneca vaccines worth about P120 million. He said the government requested 50% of the vaccines be given to individuals the establishment selects while the remaining 50% will be for the private sector to provide vaccine for people who need it.

While the vaccine costs US$ 5.50 with the remaining .50 cents for logistical requirements to deliver the vaccine to the country.

“We are also helping with the distribution which is going to be a very important component in making sure the vaccines can get to the public as this is a critical component, each of the vaccines, whether its AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, Noravax or Sinovax have their own peculiar requirements for distribution,” he concluded. (Melo M. Acuña)

Mr. Francisco Zobel de Ayala, CEO of Ayala Corporation. (Screen grab from Malacanang Press Briefing/RTVM/PCOO/PTV4)

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