The Yuchengco Group of Companies (YGC) Chairperson, Helen Yuchengco Dee and Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) Corporate Vice-Chairman Cesar E.A. Virata, discuss new opportunities.

Synergy Media Specialists (SMS): What opportunities have the current administration’s “Build, Build, Build” initiative created for YGC?

Helen Yuchengco Dee: The Philippine banking industry has grown substantially over the past few years and our conglomerate has identified key sectors in which we have been able to succeed. On the supply side, EEI Corp. is participating in the Skyway expansion project. The program is expected to alleviate traffic congestion, which is currently bleeding the economy of billions of pesos, in the metro Manila area. We are also participating in the 650 billion peso Metro Manila Subway Project that will significantly increase mobility options for commuting Filipinos.

Other “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure projects with EEI’s involvement include MRT-7, Mega Manila Subway, Bohol-Panglao International Airport and the Communications, Navigation, Surveillance and Air Traffic Management development project. Our education group will provide engineers and other talent required for these projects, while our automotive group will provide vehicles to ensure more efficient mobility and logistics.

The Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) has been active in project financing for various infrastructure projects such as the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corp. The project that is estimated to cost 26 billion pesos will be an 8.5-kilometer-long highway connecting the mainland Cebu and Mactan cities. The loan facility was signed late last year.

These are undertaken by the private sector in partnership with the government of the Philippines. The bank is well-positioned to syndicate or bankroll funds for companies able to secure other projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program. The Philippines remains awash with cash and we are inclined to support green, sustainable and renewable energy projects.

Cesar E.A. Virata: Our primary goal has always been and will continue to be supporting the people of the Philippines and the economy. We have been focusing on creating opportunities for people who live in provincial areas. These initiatives align perfectly with current infrastructure projects and the construction of airports and hospitals.

SMS: What makes YGC’s business model so effective across multiple business sectors?

Helen Yuchengco Dee: Ingrained in YGC are its core values: forward-thinking, service excellence, teamwork, a sense of urgency, professionalism and accountability. These values drive the business forward. Our business model encourages and facilitates synergies across our business sectors. We are able to take advantage of the strengths of each business unit to help other units within our conglomerate and promote sustained profitability and stability.

Guided by our core values, RCBC continuously works hard to provide investment vehicles, funding options to businesses and opportunities for every Filipino who wants their own home, car and business.

The awards brought home by Mapua University, one of the top engineering schools   in Manila, and RCBC are proof that we are on the right track. We continue to implement innovative teaching methods at Mapua University and strive to ensure the university is a place where theory meets practice in order to continue the establishment’s “outcome-based” education system. Mapua University was among the first to implement online lectures for college students and in-class lectures are recorded and uploaded online for students to revisit at their convenience.

Our strategic partnerships with international universities allow our students to explore an expanded “network of learning,” while always keeping Mapua University ahead of the curve.

Cesar E.A. Virata: The healthy lending activities throughout the country have been driven by the excellent economic performance of the Philippines for the past five years. As a result, every RCBC market segment has seen significant growth, including the five year compound annual growth rate for corporates at 9 percent, small and midsized enterprises at 20 percent and consumers at 17 percent. The progressive Philippine economy has allowed RCBC to expand its reach and diversify its business services into fields such as microfinance lending and digital banking. RCBC is committed to empowering Filipinos. We want to be a driving force that contributes to building the economy and developing industries while acting as a bridge to improve every Filipino’s quality of life.

SMS: How has YGC been able to benefit from the recent influx of foreign investment?

Helen Yuchengco Dee: We have received many inquiries from foreign companies to establish joint ventures with us, either in our existing businesses or in new businesses. Malayan Insurance has seen business growth through its travel insurance products. With more Filipinos achieving a higher earning capacity and traveling to local and international destinations, there has also been an increase in awareness regarding travel insurance for their protection.

SMS: What factors are bringing Japan and the Philippines closer together during this ‘golden era of strategic partnership’?

Helen Yuchengco Dee: The Philippines has always expressed confidence in its relations with Japan. The Japanese government announced that it will provide maximum support for rehabilitation efforts in Marawi, the capital of Lanao Del Sur and rolled out a $9 billion investment plan for the Philippines over a five-year period. Commitments such as this confirm that Japan is a strategic ally in advancing peace, progress and prosperity.

As Francis Laurel, president of The Philippines-Japan Society, said, “Honesty, innovation and a strong work ethic” are values that our two nations continue to share when it comes to advocating this important partnership.

SMS: To what do you attribute the successful Japanese partnerships established across YGC’s businesses?

Helen Yuchengco Dee: The success of these partnerships is deeply rooted in respect, transparency and trust. The alliances we have forged have been mutually beneficial for both YGC and its partner companies. The desire for each party to succeed is evident in every partnership and understanding how each company’s strengths can be harnessed for the benefit of each joint venture is one of the most vital components for success.

The long-standing partnership between Malayan Insurance and Tokio Marine (founded in 1879 as the first insurance company in Japan) is a good example. Tokio Marine is able to offer its products and services to the Filipino public through Malayan Insurance with efficient practices that we have implemented. This has allowed us to benefit our customer base and grow our businesses together.

SMS: What future ventures can we expect from YGC?

Helen Yuchengco Dee: Conglomerates such as YGC can convert demands driven by economic growth into opportunities. In line with the “Build, Build, Build” program, JP Systems Asia Inc. (an affiliate of EEI Corp.) is working in partnership with two Japanese construction firms to deliver scaffolding and rent formwork for projects. The venture aims to support the Philippine construction industry by supplying high-quality shoring and scaffolding products while incorporating Japanese techniques, standards and disciplines in construction projects across the country.

As ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) integration moves forward, we are considering the merger of RCBC and RCBC Savings Bank to build a stronger institution able to compete with international banks. We are confident that by joining the two we can incorporate the best practices implemented by both banks to form a “double-barrelled” corporation.

Cesar E.A. Virata: We believe the Philippines’ robust growth will continue, moving the country toward the upper-middle income category. We will remain sensitive to opportunities and will continue to invest in talent, automation and processes that will further enhance synergies within the group.