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Daily News - 06 May 1998

Most Dominicans would like Balaguer and Peña to retire
The Listín Diario-Sigma 2 poll showed that 83% of Dominicans feel it is time that Dr. Joaquín Balaguer, leader of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano, who has been President of the Dominican Republic for over 30 years, retire from politics. Likewise, the survey, carried out by the leading Dominican newspaper and a prestigious Spanish polling agency, showed that 67.3% also feel that Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, head of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, the leading opposition party, should also retire. Peña Gómez is 62 years old, but suffers from cancer of the pancreas. The survey was carried out from 16-20 April. Some 1,254 persons were interviewed.

Explaining the low percentages of the PRSC
Three directors of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano said that the low percentage points the PRSC is showing in the polls is the consequence of the delays in the start of the political campaigns. Donald Reid Cabral, Federico Antún Batlle and candidate for mayor of Santo Domingo, Rafael Corporán de los Santos, attributed the third place position to the fact that the party started its campaign in April. Furthermore, the spokesman for the PRSC's campaign command, Ramón Pérez Martínez, said that it is expected that former President Balaguer himself will campaign on the streets in favor of his party. "Nobody has won more elections than Balaguer and he, obviously, always knows what has to be done," said Pérez Martínez. All expect the PRSC to gain percentage points in the next few days. The elections will be held on 16 May.

Johnny Ventura, from band player to mayor of Santo Domingo?
Johnny Ventura, the international merengue legend, is running for deputy mayor of Santo Domingo on the PRD ticket. While newspapers have interviewed him extensively for the launching of his auto-biography, there have been scant interviews regarding his new political role. Indeed, he has been taking a back seat to Dr. Jose Peña Gómez, who is running for mayor. Polls indicate that Dr. Peña Gómez is likely to be voted the next mayor of Santo Domingo. At the same time, political analysts forecast that Peña will barely be able to complete his first year, given his health condition. Thus, Ventura could be the next mayor of Santo Domingo.
In an interview of 6 May in the Listín Diario, Ventura reminds Dominicans that when he gets to city hall, he will not be improvising. A lawyer and former congressman, he was a former substitute mayor for four years under the city administration of Dr. Peña Gómez, from 1982-1986. He said that he was at the job every day during that period.
Johnny Ventura says that the mayor will determine his responsibilities. He says the deputy mayor will be the right-hand of the mayor. In case of the absence of the mayor, he will assume office.
Ventura explained that after several years exclusively in show business, he became involved in politics in 1962, joining the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano. He said that back then only a few artists became involved in politics because most felt it would hurt their popularity. He said he has proven this is not so. "I think both activities can be carried out when you respect yourself as a professional artist and your public; and being concerned with the problems of the nation, you try to make contributions."
Johnny Ventura is a close friend of another former mayor, Rafael Corporán de los Santos, a TV producer-variety show host-turned politician, who is hoping to repeat as mayor under the PRSC ticket. Dominicans are likely to vote for the party with chances of winning, thus Corporán's votes could sway to Ventura or to the PLD's Roberto Salcedo, another TV producer-comedian-turned politician.
Ventura said that Santo Domingo's problems are the result of the overall socioeconomic situation of the country. He says people abandon the countryside and move to Santo Domingo, seeking a better livelihood. This has caused the city to grow beyond the limits of the present city government's administrative capacity. "That is why Peña Gómez insists on decentralization, and it is an idea that, thank God, is shared by the other candidates."

OAS observers to come for elections
The Organization of American States will send 12 observers to witness the Dominican Republic's congressional and municipal elections. The announcement was made by Juan Sully Bonnelly, president of the Junta Central Electoral, the government department that organizes the elections. Independent observers from about 40 other countries will also monitor the polls. In the elections, 30 senators, 144 deputies, 115 mayors and more than 750 city council members will be chosen. Sully Bonnelly also said that about 60,000 volunteers and election board staffers will run the polls. The 1998 municipal and congressional elections is estimated to cost nearly RD$1,000 million.

Tricom,S.A. commences trading on the New York Stock Exchange
Tricom, S.A. became the first Dominican company ever to list on the New York Stock Exchange. Tricom S.A. is the alternate provider of diversified telecommunications services in the Dominican Republic, second to Codetel, a GTE subsidiary. Tricom is 60% owned by Grupo Financiero Nacional of the Dominican Republic and 40% by the U.S."s Motorola. Following the sale, Motorola and Grupo Financiero Nacional will retain 90% of the company's shares.
Since Tricom began operations in 1992 as a low-cost international long distance service provider, the company's services have expanded to include basic local service, national long distance, cellular, paging and Internet access.
American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) began trading 5 May on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "TDR". The initial public offering consists of 5.7 million shares of Tricom S.A. Class A Common Stock at a price of $13.00 per share. Bear Stearns served as lead manager in the offering with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter as co-manager. The Bank of New York will act as the depositary bank for the securities.
The company said that the offering will result in net proceeds of approximately $68.9 million. Of the total net proceeds, the company will use approximately $51.7 million to fund capital expenditures and $17.2 million to repay short-term indebtedness incurred to fund equipment purchases.
A copy of the prospectus relating to this offering may be obtained from ADP Prospectus Plus Fulfillment Center (for Bear Stearns) by fax request at 516-254-7170.

Tricom offering is important for DR and Latin American business
Tricom chairman Manuel Arturo Pellerano pointed out that the public offering is a benchmark move. "It is important because it will allow the nation to be known in the capital markets and will open the doors to other Dominican companies. Obviously this is an enormous opportunity for the Dominican Republic to be known. It is an achievement that transcends the Dominican frontiers and makes clear the strength of our economy and the present and future potential of Tricom," he said.
The move is also important for business in general in Latin America. The public offering was the first from Latin America this year, especially significant in view of the Asian crisis that has caused other companies to postpone their initial public offerings. Reuters has reported that while some US$15 billion Latin American stock offerings are planned for 1998, the launches have been delayed.
In the late afternoon of the first day, Tricom shares were trading at $12.50, below the offering price of $13. U.S. investors picked up 75% of the shares sold, U.S. brokers 25%, said the company.
Ian Simpson, reporting for Reuters, explained that despite the drop in price, Wall Street analysts were saying the launch was important because it broke a drought for Latin American initial public offerings in the global market.
The lackluster debut was said to reflect the reluctance of investors to become involved at the time in unknown companies from small countries and emerging markets. Moreover, Tricom also was overshadowed by the upcoming multibillion-dollar privatization of Brazil's telephone company, Telebras.
"It's not doing too well, but they actually managed to place it,"
Federico Laffan, a Latin American portfolio manager at Warburg Pincus. "It's a good start," he told Reuters.
Two other Latin American companies that had planned initial public offerings - Ecuadorean cellular phone company Conecel and Colombian cellular phone firm Celumovil - called them off this year because of poor investor interest.
Reportedly, Latin American companies sold a record US$4.5 billion in public shares last year, but offerings slowed to a standstill after the Asian financial crisis jolted regional markets late in 1997.

Exchange markets forecast a drop in the value of the dollar
Exchange market analysts are forecasting that the dollar has peaked at its sales price of RD$15.65 and is likely to start a decline in price. Exchange houses were buying dollars for RD$15.00. At present, demand has lulled as buyers expect the Central Bank to inject the market with dollar reserves.
Furthermore, Freddy Ortíz, president of the Association of Foreign Exchange Remittance Companies (Aderedi), said that another measure expected to have a downward effect is the elimination of the U.S. Treasury Department requirement (GTO), whereby persons sending remittances of more than US$750 to the Dominican Republic from the United States had to identify themselves with two photo ID cards. No identification is now required for up to US$10,000 remittances. The GTO was eliminated after U.S. authorities determined that remittance houses were not being used to launder money and that controls in place by the Department of Banks of New York, and the U.S. Treasury Department, were effective and being complied with by the remittances houses in the U.S.
Dominican Consul General in New York City Bienvenido Pérez estimates that Dominican workers send some US$1,200 million a year to friends and relatives.
Moreover, a new extrabank exchange table, whereby banks can exchange among themselves surpluses of foreign exchange, is also expected to add fluidity to the market, reducing the pressures that generate a decline in the value of the peso. The bank table began operations today.

RD$45 million lotto winner
José Rafael Díaz Domínguez, a 21-year-old tire repairman, is the happy winner of RD$45 million Dominican lotto prize. Lotería Electrónica Internacional made the announcement on Tuesday. Díaz held on to the ticket throughout the long weekend only coming forth on Tuesday. He told Hoy newspaper, "no daré un golpe más," he wouldn't work again and would live off the bank interest generated by the money. He said that he has already worked too much in his 21 years. Díaz Domínguez, lives in Guazumal 16, Tamboril, Santiago, in the center of the country.
He said he hasn't decided yet what to do with the money except to buy a good car (he always dreamed of having a Lexus when repairing the tires of luxury cars) and a house for his mother and seven sisters and brothers. His father abandoned the family when he was young.
Díaz worked in his brother-in-law's mechanic shop located on Av. Estrella Sahdalá corner Padre las Casas in the city of Santiago, the second largest in the Dominican Republic. He purchased the lucky ticket in a Santiago pharmacy.
He said that his brother-in-law saw him sitting depressed because he didn't have any money to play the lotto, and gave him the RD$30 to buy the ticket. When watching the draw on TV on Saturday, when his numbers were called he got so nervous he crumpled the ticket. He later used an iron to straighten it out and thus the ticket he presented had a black color tint to it, it was almost burned.
Díaz will receive a check for RD$45,068,920 minus 15% tax.

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