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Dennis Uy looks on as President Rodrigo Duterte rings the Philippine Stock Exchange bell to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the listing of the tycoon's Phoenix Petroleum in 2017.   © AFP/Jiji
Business Spotlight

Duterte's tycoon donor Dennis Uy faces new political landscape

Businessman navigates pandemic and politics as president's influence ebbs

CLIFF VENZON, Nikkei staff writer | Philippines

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.

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