Back to Work: Fernando Zobel Resumes Leadership After Medical Leave

After 5 months of medical leave and quitting all executive roles in Ayala Group, Fernando Zobel returns to work as the chairman of the corporate governance committee of its board of directors.

Last February 1, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. (PSPC) released a company disclosure, announcing the return of Fernando Zobel de Ayala as the chairman of the corporate governance committee of its board of directors. Meanwhile, interim chair Cesar Buenaventura moved back to being a member of the corporate governance committee and resumes his post as the chairman of board audit and risk oversight. 

“Please be informed that Mr. Fernando Zobel de Ayala, independent director of the corporation, has returned from his medical leave,” PSPC said in a stock exchange filing on February 1, 2023.

Fernando Zobel Resumes Leadership

News of Zobel’s return to the business world caused a stir in the community, since he stepped down from all his executive duties in the Ayala Group last year, citing health concerns. Amid concerns for his health, his brother, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (JAZA), assured the public that the medical leave was only temporary.

“I want to assure everyone that Fernando is in high spirits, but he has asked for some time to focus on his health and recovery. We all have so many responsibilities and commitments in all aspects of our lives, but first and foremost, we should all prioritize our health and well-being,” JAZA stated in his social media post. 

Apparently, Zobel is now ready to work. In fact, Ayala representatives said Zobel is still an adviser to the Ayala Group and will eventually rejoin other boards. Since the announcement, PSPC’s shares ($PSE:SHLPH) spiked by 3.38%. 

$PSE:SHLPH chart as of February 7, 2023 showing a slight increase of 3.38% since the company disclosure
$PSE:SHLPH chart as of February 7, 2023—showing a slight increase of 3.38% since the company disclosure. Source:

The Ayala Legacy

Stemming from the 1800s, the Ayalas have had a long heritage of being in commerce. The business powerhouse survived all colonial eras and is now powering through the digital age. Aside from being one of the oldest conglomerates in the country, the Ayalas are known to be pioneers in different industries. 

The forefather, Antonio de Ayala, partnered with Domingo Roxas to invest in a small Manila distillery, which is now a holding company for Ayala Land. Two decades later, they established the precursor of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)—the first bank in the country. Then, Jacobo Zobel y Zangroniz introduced the first public mass transport in the country: Tramcars. 

Diversifying its portfolio, the conglomerate then pioneered insurance in the country by investing in Insular Life. While amassing expansive lands, Joseph McMicking created the Ayala Master Plan which is now the blueprint for the Makati business district. Moreover, the group also has hands-on finance, electronics, and telecommunications companies under its belt, among others. 

Now with the leadership of Fernando Zobel—in tandem with JAZA—the Ayalas continue to make breakthroughs in the country. By focusing more on sustainability, they are now investing in renewable energy through ACEN and are targeting to net zero greenhouse gas by 2050. What’s more, they are also advocating for green living through the developments of Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Nuvali, and El Nido.