Turning things around for distressed assets


    With almost a quarter century of banking experience including lengthy stints at the Philippine National Bank and the National Australia Bank, Imelda “Ida” Tiongson has, over the years, developed strong expertise in numerous related fields including entrepreneurship, project financing and investment, mergers and acquisition, risk management, financial literacy and marketing and corporate rehabilitation.

    Ida Tiongson, president and CEO of Opal Portfolio Investments (SPV-AMC) Inc.

    Not surprisingly, Ida was a success story by herself when she decided to strike on her own and became president and CEO of Opal Portfolio Investments (SPV-AMC) Inc., a company formed by ING that deals with distressed assets.

    “Generally, what our company does is buy distressed assets meaning non-performing assets from banking institutions and turn them around. Just like banks, we try to find solutions on these assets including restructuring, provide additional funding if needed, or convert to equity. In short, we rehabilitate businesses and only resort to foreclosure when there’s no other option left,” Ida told The Manila Times.

    “As long as there is a continued demand for a distressed company’s products or services and they meet the most important “C” of credit which is Character by transacting with us in good faith, we believe that their business deserves a second chance to be nursed back to health,” she added.

    Considering that Ida and her company belongs to an industry where risk is part and parcel of, it’s remarkable that she has still enjoyed a lot of success as a turn-around manager.

    To date, Opal Investments has purchased billions worth of distressed assets from banks. So far, the company has been successful in rehabilitating a good number of their clients as Ida said Opal was rated as the number one SPV-AMC company in terms of profit from 2009 to 2013. Opal is also among the top corporations in the Philippines, ranking among the largest SPV-AMC companies engaged in portfolio management, investments and restructuring of accounts and companies.

    In addition, Ida says her firm has dealt with many tycoons and also provides financial advisory work that covers not only simple restructuring but also mergers and acquisitions and even joint ventures.

    As many of the company’s borrowers have repaid by way of properties, Opal is slowly transforming into a quasi-real estate firm as well.

    “We have done several expansions on the properties we have acquired including conversion to subdivision projects, turning them into joint ventures, and recently, we are also studying exciting developmental real estate project,” Ida further shared.

    Outside of Opal, Ida also has personal investments in other industries including in an information technology school, a fintech company, bitcoin currency and even independent films.

    “Movie making has been a personal investment since 2005. Me and several partners, particularly our film head independent filmmaker Will Fredo, established a movie producing company called HPI. We have now grown from a small outfit to a one that is relatively medium size. We are proud to say that from humble beginnings, we have broken barriers as we continue to support our local filmmakers.”

    Ida also shares her knowledge in business by regularly lecturing in Ateneo Graduate School, Institute of Corporate Directors as well as IFC-World Bank group. And yes, she still manages to find time for her passions for painting and even hiphop dancing.

    As a woman who has evolved from a career banking professional to a respected CEO with diversified personal investments, Ida Tiongson adheres to generally accepted business practices in her path to success.

    “Success is relative. I like the quote, ‘Success is a person who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much’ by Bessie Anderson Stanley. It is important to follow not just the profit but more on the values like good governance and good business relationship. Good personal relations in business is important. By helping others in their business, you will eventually lift your own,” she concluded.

    * * *

    Like most successful CEOs, Ida Tiongson is of the firm belief that experience is always the best teacher.

    “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn,” she quipped. She follows the 4Ts Rule in Management and Communication to minimize toxicity at work.

    Tolerate. Accept differences.

    Treat. Fix or compromise

    Transfer. Risks can be transferred if needed
    Terminate. Cut and Move on

    “And always remember that we are answerable to someone higher than all of us. you can be successful financially but if you follow bad ethical standards, is that still considered successful?,” she wondered.


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