GMA Network boss open to settlement with Ang
The head of GMA Network Inc., who is facing a syndicated estafa case over a down payment in a scuttled investment deal in the television network, said he was open to a settlement with San Miguel Corp. president Ramon Ang amid their public word war.
GMA Network chair and CEO Felipe Gozon, the only one of three major shareholders included in the charges, as well as members of his family, and other stockholders and officers were accused on July 27 of failing to return and of misappropriating a portion of the P1-billion down payment Ang had paid to secure a 34-percent stake in GMA.
In a briefing on Thursday, during which GMA disclosed that profit in the first half of 2015 jumped 89 percent to P1.1 billion, Gozon addressed media queries on how the negotiations with Ang for more than a year deteriorated and the talks collapsed last June.
Gozon reiterated that there was no deceit on his part in negotiating the sale of a part of GMA, which is also controlled by the Duavit and Jimenez families. He said he was holding onto Ang’s P1-billion down payment to answer for damages following the failure of the deal.
“Mr. Ang is a very smart, experienced and successful businessman. I think it would be difficult to fool Mr. Ang,” Gozon said. “I would like to say that we never employed any deceit or fraud against Mr. Ang.”
Gozon also said that he was open to talking about a settlement.
“I am a reasonable person and Mr. Ang, as I know him, is also reasonable. If there is any reasonable proposal for a settlement … I am open,” Gozon said.
Ang, who had wanted to invest in GMA in a personal capacity, did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Thursday. But he insisted on Wednesday night that Gozon’s decision to hold on to the P1-billion down payment was illegal.
“Retaining a refundable down payment after the nonconsummation of a transaction is the essence of estafa by misappropriation as stated in my complaint,” Ang said in a statement he issued on Aug. 5.
Gozon noted that minor issues that had prevented the deal from closing early on had become more significant, leading to the breakdown of talks.
He declined to provide specific details, but said it was not related to the valuation of GMA, which is traded on the Philippine Stock Exchange.
Not actively seeking
Gozon added on Thursday that the shareholders would consider any new proposal for an investment in GMA, but that they were not actively seeking a buyer.
Previously, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and the Ayala Group’s Globe Telecom, which are both ramping up content partnerships, made offers to invest in GMA.
GMA’s first-half financial results suggested that the company would end 2015 with earning about 50 percent better than in 2014, with political-related advertising expected to kick in toward the end of the year, GMA 7 chief finance officer Felipe Yalong said at the briefing.
Revenues during the six-month period increased 15 percent to P6.65 billion, the company announced.
Still, these developments signal continued appetite for television assets. Television continues to corner most, or about 78 percent, of the P340-billion advertising market, Kantar Media said in a 2013 survey.
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