MVP group not interested in PAL

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09:23 PM June 24th, 2013

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By: Miguel R. Camus, June 24th, 2013 09:23 PM

Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan said his group was not keen on buying into flag carrier Philippine Airlines.

He made the statement in reaction to reports saying he was among those being offered to acquire tycoon Lucio Tan’s 51-percent stake in the airline.

Pangilinan, who heads some of the country’s biggest companies like Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., said there was no current plan to buy an airline.

“It’s not our business,” Pangilinan told reporters in a chance interview at the sidelines of the launch of this year’s The Outstanding Young Men award.

Biz Buzz reported on Monday that Pangilinan’s camp was being offered a stake in Philippine Airlines, after Tan’s group signified its intent to exit the airline business after two decades.

Tans’ group began its exit from PAL in 2012, when it sold 49 percent of Philippine Airlines to San Miguel Corp.—whose president, Ramon Ang, vowed to bring the airline back to profitability by 2014. San Miguel was initially tagged as the prospective buyer of Tan’s remaining shares although the company denied this earlier this month.

San Miguel’s buy-in price was pegged at $500 million and reports noted that Tan was looking to unload his remaining shares for about the same price.

Philippine Airlines has been operating in a difficult business environment. In recent years, it has been affected by increasing competition from aggressive players including Cebu Pacific, a Gokongwei-led budget carrier, and rising fuel costs. Restrictions imposed by United States and European regulators on Philippine carriers have prevented PAL from expanding in those jurisdictions.

Trading of PAL Holdings Inc., the listed holding company of Philippine Airlines, at the Philippine Stock Exchange remained suspended as the company had yet to comply with the 10 percent minimum public ownership rule of the bourse.

Ang said earlier that PAL Holdings, which has a public float of just 0.55 percent, would comply with the said rule within the month. PAL Holdings, which last traded on Dec. 28 last year, closed at P4.90 each, giving it a market value of P109.9 billion.

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