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PBBM names adviser, ICTSI vet Consing as Maharlika Fund CEO

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President Marcos named Rafael Consing Jr. as president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Maharlika Investment Corp., Malacañang said on Monday.

“Mr. Consing is expected to play a pivotal role in enhancing the corporation’s investment strategies and contributing to the economic growth and prosperity of the Philippines,” the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said in a press release.

Consing, who was executive director of the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Investment and Economic Affairs, is experienced in corporate governance, mergers, acquisitions, corporate finance, global markets, stakeholder relations, and business strategy development, the PCO said.

He previously served as the chief financial officer of International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI).

He was also a managing director at HSBC Hong Kong and HSBC Singapore, vice president and treasurer for Aboitiz & Co., Inc. and Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc., and held positions at Bankers Trust Company and Multinational Bancorporation, where he gained experience in investment banking, derivatives and corporate finance.

Consing is a graduate of De La Salle University and completed the Stanford University Graduate School of Business’s Emerging CFO: Strategic Financial Leadership Program in 2016.

The PCO said that as president and CEO of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, Consing is tasked to establish a diversified portfolio of investments in local and global financial markets and other assets that align with the fund’s objectives; manage and invest the initial and future contributions to the fund; and accept and manage investment mandates aimed at increasing income for development goals.

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, welcomed Consing’s appointment, noting he has extensive experience in both financial management and the management of large infrastructure projects.

“In that sense, he is an excellent fit for both the financial and the developmental functions of the [Maharlika Investment] Fund (MIF). He is the man for the job,” Salceda said.

Salceda noted that Consing has extensive experience in project financing, such as the $398-million project finance for Victoria International Container Terminal. “Consing received various awards for this project deal,” Salceda said.

Given his track record, Salceda said he is confident Consing will also be able to attract investments into the MIF.

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) chairman emeritus Francis Chua said the local business group has high regard for the President’s decision to appoint Consing.

“Mr. Consing is a well-experienced businessman. He is a highly respected leader in the corporate world and the best candidate for the job. We have to congratulate our President in this decision,” he said.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. chief economist Michael Ricafort said Consing’s “wealth of experience” as former chief financial officer of ICTSI, the world’s largest port operator, would serve him well in his new job.

Ricafort believed that Consing had a strong private sector background in infrastructure financing and management, and he would be able to “to grow, expand, complete and deliver profits from the various infrastructure projects and other business ventures locally and globally.”

The leftist Makabayan bloc, however, said the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Maharlika Investment Fund Law were apparently revised to enable Consing’s appointment.

“We cannot blame people for thinking that with another one of their former employees heading the Maharlika Investment Corporation (MIC) their business ventures would again be favored,” said ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro.

“This is another red flag against the Maharlika Investment Fund, and we hope that the Supreme Court would rule that it is unconstitutional and puts the people’s money in grave danger,” she said.

The Department of Finance (DOF) said it fully supports the revised IRR.

In a statement Monday, DOF said the changes in the IRR were all within the bounds of the law, meant to give full meaning to the establishment of a strong corporate governance structure.

“In particular, the IRR’s emphasis on ensuring the independence of the board of directors of the Maharlika Investment Corp. [MIC] allows it more headroom to form credible oversight and risk management bodies while upholding the highest standards of effective fund management,” the DOF said.

“Its finalization came at an opportune time as investors, both local and international, have signified in several investor promotion engagements their robust interest in the country’s first-ever sovereign wealth fund,” it said.

The DOF also said this affirmed the Marcos administration’s commitment to see the fund off and running by the end of the year and effectively paves the way for the full operation of “a well-structured, robust, and effective sovereign wealth fund that will advance the Philippines’ long-term growth.”

The revised IRR gave the President authority to accept or reject nominees in the MIC board of directors and removed the specific advanced educational degree requirements for those who can be appointed to manage the country’s first sovereign wealth fund.

House Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. said he was confident the revised regulations would bolster the autonomy of the MIC board of directors, fostering an environment where the MIC could be managed with unimpeded independence and shielded from any unwarranted political influence.

Rep. Irwin Tieng, chair of the House committee on banks and financial intermediaries, expressed relief over the final IRR, saying it would bolster the independence of the corporation’s governing body. With Othel V. Campos


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