In the last 15 years, or from 1994, National Steel Corporation [NSC] belonged to the top ten corporations in the Philippines in terms of sales, net profit and other criteria; thus featured among the top 1000 corporations in Asia.
In 1994, NSC was finalizing its privatization plan which it started as early as 1990. Subsequently, a Malaysian firm, Wing Tiek Holdings Corp. Berhad, acquired 55% NSC’s primary shares for P12.375 billion, besting offers from India’s Nippon Denro Ispat Ltd., Exchange Capital Corp. Consortium and AIA Capital Corp. Consortium. Wing Tiek signed the Memorandum of Understanding on 12 October 1994 in the presence of Pres. Fidel V. Ramos and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir (NSC News, October 1994). Five years and two months later, Filipinos—at least those who cared to find out; or those who never want the lessons of the past ignored in the future—knew what happened: NSC closed shop leaving huge debts to local and foreign banks.
Reading this kind of news in the Business section, it brought back memories of the supposedly the “Golden Age” of NSC. I even kept the Asiaweek magazine issue bearing NSC’s inclusion among the top 1000 Asian companies (1992). Asiaweek 1000 debuted in December 1992 as the first ever detailed listing of Asia’s top 1000 industrial and commercial enterprises. Asiaweek had subsequently been purchased by Time Magazine Asia.
Although some observers claimed that the inclusion of NSC among the top performing corporations in Asia was only for show prior to its subsequent privatization, it should be noted here that its corporate performance was backed with audited financial statements filed at the Security Exchange Commission [SEC] whereby any doubt as to the veracity of the financial data would have been questioned and thus the economists at Asiaweek would have issued an errata or apology for including NSC in its top corporations in Asia in 1990s.
In 1994, I already spent five years of my professional life as a Registered Electrical Engineer working for NSC, from being an Engineering Management Trainee [EMT] until 1991, then as a Turn Supervisor until 1995. Furthermore, I started studying for a master’s degree in Business Management starting 1992. Thus, with some inkling on the rudiments of the steel industry—the big players, the economics of the manufacturing process and the use of new and emerging technologies; plus being a part of the corporate world, in addition to learning past and current management ideas from lectures, research, case studies and experiential sharing from fellow students much older than me then, I became aware of the connection between corporate rankings and their profitability, their management and leadership styles, and their future growth.
In 1990s, when NSC belonged to the Philippines’s top 10, its employees were bearing the mark of winners: children enrolled in exclusive schools; homes furnished with the latest in appliances; feasts celebrated with a bevy of roasted pigs or calf; managers and supervisors alike sporting the latest models of personal cars; grand celebration of its founding anniversary every February with door prizes that would not even fit the doors when carried away (could yourself manhandle a 10-cubit feet refrigerator?); a group summer outing—gallivanting or frolicking at the white sandy beaches of Camiguin or exclusive seclusion at the Little Baguio—all paid for by the company; or the corporate Christmas programs seemingly an international event fed live through the airwaves, video-taped for posterity or recorded for those who left NSC for greener but colder pastures or warmer oases, and with foreign and local dignitaries in attendance.
Unfortunately, NSC ceased to officially exist in 2000, although remnants of it is still resides in the same old Administration Building 2. Am I being nostalgic again? Probably, for with the wintry air blowing brought by the Chinese snow, Christmas is just around the corner.
Those were the days, some of us who were once part NSC used to say! Who would have thought the end of that era. Some good things never really last.
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