In a decade and a half, Dennis A. Uy has built a diversified conglomerate of more than 50 companies across various industries out of Davao City in southern Philippines. And he is just starting.
The entrepreneur has created and grown one business after another into major players and challengers in oil and gas, shipping and logistics and real estate, among others, under UDENNA Corp.
Among these growing companies is Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp., which was successfully listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange last August, to further accelerate its expansion within and outside the archipelago.
Uy forayed into shipping and logistics with the acquisition of a single tanker in 2006 specifically to support the operations of his first company, Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc.
Chelsea has since grown into the Philippines’ biggest shipping group – consolidated under Chelsea Logistics – through a mix of organic growth and strategic acquisitions.
Chelsea tankers with more than 500 gross registered tonnage corner about 14% of a highly fragmented market, according to data from the Maritime Industry Authority. The group also accounts for about a third of the roll-on, roll-off and passenger segment by capacity and route coverage.
The acquisition of a substantial stake in 2GO Group, Inc. in March would boost Chelsea Logistics’ capacity to cover the supply chain from end to end through an integrated logistics and distribution platform with 24 vessels moving 4.3 million passengers and 329,000 twenty-foot equivalent units yearly.
After raising $115 million from its initial public offering (IPO), Chelsea Logistics would acquire two more firms – Starlite Ferries, Inc. and Worklink Services, Inc. – to reinforce its operations.
“Our investments into better shipping and logistics position Chelsea Logistics well to capture opportunities brought by the Philippine’s economy’s continued growth and the ongoing economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,” Uy said.
Chelsea Logistics has transformed into a major industry player, just as Phoenix Petroleum has become the country’s leading independent and fastest-growing oil company.
Uy established the first gas station of Phoenix Petroleum in 2005, following the deregulation of the country’s retail fuel industry. It would become the first independent oil company to join the Philippine Stock Exchange two years later.
“Our blockbuster IPO in July 2007 paved the way for Phoenix Petroleum to expand outside Mindanao and become a recognized challenger in the oil industry,” Uy said.
“The reliable and efficient shipping services of Chelsea helped advance our petroleum business to compete in an industry dominated by multinational companies.”
Phoenix Petroleum has grown its network to over 500 retail stations nationwide. It also supplies the petroleum requirements of industries such as power, shipping, logistics, transportation and manufacturing.
The company remains in expansion mode. In August, it ventured into the liquefied petroleum gas industry with the acquisition of Petronas Energy Philippines, Inc., which has since been renamed to Phoenix LPG Philippines, Inc.
The rise of UDENNA
The eldest of four siblings in a family of Chinese descent, Uy developed an entrepreneurial spirit early on. From childhood to youth, his interest was always in business.
After graduating from college with a degree in business management, Uy joined his family’s businesses before embarking on his own entrepreneurial journey. “I worked hard so I could achieve financial independence, start a business of my own, and contribute more to our country.”
Guided by the values of entrepreneurial spirit, hard work and diligence, good heart, integrity, excellence and partnerships, Dennis would then build UDENNA into one of the biggest business groups in the Philippines.
From a capital of less than $300,000 and revenues of less than $2 million when it started 15 years ago, UDENNA has significantly grown its equity to $200 million and revenues to $661 million at end-2016.
UDENNA continues to forge ahead beyond its publicly listed companies, which have become independent challengers and leaders in industries with long histories of non-competitive environments.
This year saw Udenna Development (Udevco) Corp. break ground for a $300-million integrated resort and casino in Mactan, Cebu. The development called Emerald will open within the next three years.
UDENNA also expanded into the education sector with the acquisition of Enderun Colleges, among others.
“We are keen on grabbing every opportunity to grow, diversify and synergize our businesses in order to create more value for our stakeholders and contribute bigger to our economy’s development,” Uy said.
This year, the ASEAN Business Advisory Council named Uy the Young Entrepreneur of the Year. He has also received the Agora Award for Outstanding Achievement in Entrepreneurship-Large Scale, among others.
“The success of UDENNA is driven by the knowledge, insight, dedication and ambition of our professional leadership team, thousands of employees and business partners across the Philippines,” Uy said.
The entrepreneur believes there is more to business beyond raking in profits. He believes in creating impact on Filipinos’ lives and taking an active role in nation-building by ensuring sustainability and providing decent jobs, among others.
In this light, UDENNA has launched education, environment, health, safety, and outreach programs that benefit its partner-communities.
In July, it launched the LIFE Fund with an initial funding of $2 million to help soldiers, particularly the heroes of conflict-ridden Marawi City, to secure livelihoods, gain financial independence, provide for their family and give education to their children.
With the continued growth of UDENNA, Uy hopes to expand its platform in helping more Filipinos succeed in life.