By Doris C. Dumlao
PHILIPPINES - The Philippine growth story has attracted the attention of the global community and soon fresh investments in key sectors like power, infrastructure, tourism and business process outsourcing may go the country's way, according to Dutch financial giant ING Bank.
Officials of the finance firm told the Inquirer that while large funds were flowing to emerging markets in general, investors had begun to take notice of the Philippines, paying close attention to its rosier macroeconomic fundamentals as well as progress in weeding out corruption and the improvement in the investment climate.
ING Bank delegates are in town for the Asian Development Bank annual meetings.
"Money needs to find its way to safer havens, but I think, fundamentally, the country is doing everything right and I can see why the market is really booming," said Bart Schmeetz, ING managing director and global head of emerging markets business.
"What investors want is predictability. They don't like volatility. And of course they have to buy into the growth story."
According to Manuel Salak III, ING managing director for clients and corporate finance in Asia, "good governance is not the single most successful formula" in attracting investors, but it is essential.
Salak, a Filipino now based in Singapore, said foreign investors would like to put their capital in countries with clear policies, where they know they need not offer bribes to get their papers approved, and where they could withdraw their funds any time.
"For the longest time, we haven't seen an economic team so dedicated to making the bureaucracy less pronounced, and processing much more efficient," Salak said.
"That will go a long way."
ING, a major player in wholesale banking in the Philippines, said this surge in confidence on the country had translated into new investments from foreign and local groups.
The finance firm helped arrange big merger and acquisition deals, among which was the US$2.4 billion (S$3 billion) acquisition by Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. of Digital Telecommunications Inc.