During this period, the price of abaca, which was the major source of Aboitiz’ business, dropped dramatically. As a result, Aboitiz & Company was on the brink of bankruptcy with big losses and a large debt. In spite of the dire situation the company saw itself in, its founder, Don Ramon Aboitiz, together with his brothers, cousins and employees, resisted calls from well-meaning friends to walk away from the debts. Instead, guided by the principle of “Palabra de honor”, Don Ramon, as he is fondly remembered, borrowed money from banks and friends for the purpose of reviving the business with a commitment to pay back the debts.
In a letter to his sibling, he wrote: “The biggest fortune I have is my word and reputation. Money can be lost and can be recovered but once your name and reputation is lost, one’s word is worthless and one is truly finished”. Without that determination to survive business hardships with hard work and a commitment to honor their word and reputation, the Aboitiz Group would not be around today.
One of the greatest lessons thus learned from that singular moment in the Group’s corporate past has been woven into its business fabric: “That Honor, Reputation, Trust and Integrity, are of paramount importance in running both our businesses and in managing our personal lives.” The practice of governance and ethics in the business and the expanding Aboitiz family was crucial in the past and still remains for the challenges the Aboitiz Group will inevitably face in the future.
In 1992, the Aboitiz Group launched its internal cultural evolution through the adoption of the Total Quality Management (TQM) movement. To keep up with the fast changing times, the Aboitiz Group felt the need to experience a re-birth, a change in mindset to make the big transitional step to professionalize the organization. Believing that only organizations that value and practice the quality process, professionalism and good governance would grow and survive in the long run, the management embraced TQM as the key ingredient and driving force behind its business strategy.
Thereafter, after 74 years as a private, family-owned business, the Aboitiz Group formed Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. (AEV) and subsequently listed it on the Philippine Stock Exchange in 1994. Aboitiz & Co. put into AEV’s basket the best and most profitable businesses it had with the view to expanding and growing the Aboitiz businesses. These included the power generation and distribution businesses of Aboitiz & Co.
Converting AEV into a publicly-listed company was a transformation since, for the first time, the Aboitiz Group not only gained non-family shareholders, but also local and foreign shareholders. This big step required further professionalization of the Aboitiz Group as new disciplines and demands for transparency, corporate governance and accountability, and a more focused business strategy also evolved.
Today, its core businesses consist of Power, Banking and Financial Services, Food, Real Estate and Infrastructure sectors. In the pursuit of its core businesses, the Company embeded the principles of sustainability in its business model, with its commitment to the triple bottom line of “People, Profit and Planet”.
Aboitiz is what it is today because the family, shareholders, professional team leaders and team members in its various organizations and business units have always upheld strong values that we all believe in. In July 2013, the Company adopted its group-wide corporate values – Integrity, Innovation, Teamwork, and Responsibility as its foundation for the Aboitiz Way. These values guide the Company on its initial steps towards corporate stewardship and the creation of shared value.