Nearly three months ago, we broke the story about Berjaya taking over Mazda's distributorship operations in the Philippines.

Well, now it's official as the paperwork has been signed between (Berjaya subsidiary) Bermaz Motor International Ltd.'s Company Director, Francis Lee, and Mazda Motor Corporation's Director and Senior Managing Execitve Officer, Yuji Nakamine, at a ceremony in Fort Bonifacio.

Berjaya Auto Philippines, the new local arm of Bermaz, will commence distributorship operations for the Mazda brand in 2013. Berjaya Corporation is a Malaysian conglomerate that has a wide reach in various businesses in Malaysia and abroad, including the distributor of the Mazda brand in Malaysia, Bermaz Motor Sdn. Bhd.

Steven Tan, a very familiar face with Ford Philippines and the regional office, takes the helm of Berjaya Auto Philippines as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Tan brings with him a very experienced team from Ford Philippines, particularly those who worked under the Mazda brand.

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When asked about how the distributorship of BAP will affect the Mazda brand especially with regard to the turn over, Tan was quick to answer that customers will be “unaffected” and that service and business will continue as normal.

When asked if the prices will be unaffected or, better yet, lowered since Bermaz assembles the Mazda3 (in CKD form) at their Inokom plant in Kedah, Malaysia, with the CX-5 set for production there as well.

Yuji Nakamine said that they are currently studying the feasibility for bringing in models from Malaysia, though at this time, Mazda models like the Mazda3, CX-5 and CX-9 will continue to be sourced from Japan. The BT-50 pick up and Mazda2 will continue to come from Thailand. Thus, prices will most likely remain the same.

Sourcing vehicles from an ASEAN member like Malaysia could possibly bring down the cost of those models as that would mean coverage under AFTA for lower duties and import costs, as opposed to the full duties paid by CBUs imported from Japan, bringing up the prices of the Mazda3 and the CX-5.

Berjaya's Bermaz took over the operations of the Mazda brand in Malaysia back in 2008, a year when there were only 991 Mazdas sold. In 2011, Bermaz sold 6,131 units, a sales growth of well over 600% in just 4 years.

Berjaya is no stranger to business in the Philippines, as the group has been here for 18 years with interests in food and beverage, hotels, gaming and lottery management. Berjaya Auto Philippines will further expand the company's portfolio, this time in the local automotive industry.