MANILA -- In May last year, tycoon Dennis Uy, a campaign donor to President Rodrigo Duterte, looked poised to take over one of the Philippines' most important energy assets. The Malampaya gas field, which supplies one-fifth of the country's power needs, would give Uy another foothold in a strategic industry and burnish his prolific deal-making record under a presidency he backed.
But last month, Uy's nearly $1 billion buyout of Malampaya -- an asset that for decades has been held by Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron -- plunged into uncertainty as political support for the acquisition crumbled. Senators had questioned his group's financial and technical capability to operate such a crucial asset, and whether it got "inordinate advantages" in the sale. A state-owned partner is refusing to sign off on the deal and, in a rare move, Uy's peers in the business community urged the Senate to do a thorough investigation.