Puregold owner in talks to acquire listed company

Backdoor listing for energy-related units

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Retailing magnate Lucio Co is in talks to acquire a controlling stake in publicly listed Mariwasa Siam Holdings Inc., widely believed to be a prospective backdoor-listing platform for the businessman’s energy-related businesses.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange Monday, Mariwasa said its majority shareholders have confirmed “that they have been approached by, and in talks with, different interested parties, one of which is the Lucio Co Group.”

But the company, which trades on the PSE under the ticker “MMI,” said nothing formal had been agreed upon so far. “Rest assured that the company will promptly inform the exchange once an agreement has been reached,” the company said.

Mariwasa issued a letter to the PSE to clarify a report that appeared in the Inquirer’s Biz Buzz column that Mariwasa was being targeted by Co for his energy ventures.  Shares of Mariwasa were up 15 percent at P6.80 each in morning trade on news of Co’s interest in the dormant company. But at the day’s close and given the overall stock market bloodbath, Mariwasa’s gains were pared down to 2.2 percent as its stock price closed at P6.03, giving the company a market capitalization of P6.64 billion.

Siam Cement Public Co Ltd., the biggest cement company in Thailand, earlier sold out of Mariwasa Siam as the group restructured its ceramics operations. A controlling stake in the shell company was sold to the Anggala group, which has local stockbrokerage operations.

The new group of majority stockholders, citing the need to “establish a corporate identity that is distinct from the previous one,” recently convened a stockholders’ meeting to extend Mariwasa’s  corporate term for another 50 years to allow it to continue its corporate existence.

Shareholders have approved a change in Mariwasa’s corporate name to any of the following, subject to the approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission: Apollo Capital Holdings Inc., Galileo Holdings Inc. and Da Vinci Capital Holdings Inc.

Stock pundits expect Co to infuse energy-related businesses into Mariwasa once a deal has been finalized. Co’s privately held Union Energy Corp. earlier announced a partnership with renewable energy developer Sta. Clara Power Corp on an 8-megawatt mini-hyropower project in Oriental Mindoro costing about P1.9 billion. Union Energy is also undertaking a P1-billion investment in a 9.9-megawatt rice husk biomass power plant in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija.

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