Pacific Plans buyer given license to sell memorial plans

Posted at 11/23/09 1:28 AM

MANILA - The Securities and Exchange Commission has given businessman Emmanuel Noel C. Oñate, buyer of the failed pre-need firm Pacific Plans, Inc., the go-signal to sell memorial plans.

In a statement at the weekend, Mr. Oñate said Abundance Providers and Entrepreneurs Corp. has secured the approval of the corporate regulator to become a dealer in pre-need life plans.

“In spite of the current market climate and the state of the pre-need industry, Abundance remains bullish about the prospects of selling memorial pre-need plans because we believe in the potential of the industry,” Mr. Oñate said in a statement.

The businessman ventured into the pre-need business almost a year ago at the time the industry was in deep trouble.

But while the pre-need industry is experiencing a significant decline in sales, customers still continue to favor life plans rather than pension funds and education plans.

Based on the monthly sales report submitted by pre-need corporations, the number of plans sold from January to August was down by more than a quarter to only 123,000 plans worth P6.25 billion.

Pension plans were hit the most, followed by educational plans, data from securities regulators showed.

Abundance, which has an authorized capital stock of P500 million, grabbed media attention earlier this year after it brought from the Yuchengcos the troubled pre-need firm Pacific Plans for P250 million.

Pacific Plans encountered difficulties with its open-ended educational plans when the government reversed its policy of keeping yearly tuition increases to 10% and authorized schools to charge as much as they wanted starting 1990.

Burdened by unlimited tuition increases, the pre-need firm sought and obtained court rehabilitation in 2005.

Mr. Oñate had said the pre-need industry remains a potentially lucrative business given the “opportunity to re-engineer its offerings and operations.”

The businessman said fresh capital has been infused into the company to ensure its continued sustainability, adding that he remains committed to “save whatever is left of the confidence and integrity of the pre-need industry.”

Mr. Oñate is the former owner of Asian Spirit Airlines, now Zest Air.

He reportedly sold the budget carrier to Alfredo M. Yao for P1 billion last year.