Biz Buzz: Not fair? Not a problem
Philippine Daily Inquirer
While Petron Corp.’s acquisition of a 65-percent stake in Esso Malaysia Berhad was met with admiration (and, let’s admit it, a lot of envy) locally, a small group of people in Malaysia are apparently not too happy about it.
Specifically, some minority shareholders of Malaysia’s third-largest petroleum refiner and distributor think they should be getting more than the 3.59 ringgit per share Petron has put on the table for the mandatory offer for the remaining 35 percent it does not own.
A small segment of the Malaysian media has also voiced its reservations against the offer price, saying it was too low (of course, this was the price at which Petron bought its stake in the firm from energy giant Exxon Mobil).
Last week, Kenanga Investment Bank—the financial adviser of Esso’s minority shareholders—advised against accepting the offer, saying the offer price was “not fair” and that the shares should be worth more.
Is Petron bothered? Apparently not.
Its 65 percent stake in the firm means it has enough to prevent a veto on board decisions by minority shareholders (who are fragmented anyway).
If minority shareholders do reject the tender offer, it also means Petron will end up spending less.
Most importantly, Kenanga told minority shareholders to hold on to their Esso shares because they would “stand to benefit from the potential future growth of the company under the new management and ownership.”
Sounds like it’s a good problem to have.—Daxim L. Lucas
Some people will do anything to be tagged as one of the wealthiest people on the planet, but not Roberto V. Ongpin, a.k.a. RVO, who protested his inclusion in Forbes Magazine’s 2012 listing of the world’s billionaires.
RVO was one of the six business tycoons from the Philippines who made it to the latest global list, joining the likes of Henry Sy Sr., Lucio Tan, Andrew Tan, Enrique Razon Jr. and Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.
Forbes estimated that the 75-year-old RVO, a former trade minister under the Marcos regime, had a net worth of $1 billion. RVO has interests in property, gaming, mining and oil exploration, banking and is also part of Top Frontier, the entity with a controlling interest in diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp.
“I wish they were right but they are simply wrong,” RVO, a certified public accountant and Harvard Business School graduate, told Biz Buzz on Friday at the sidelines of the annual stockholders’ meeting of Alphaland Corp.
RVO said Forbes’ formula of counting only the interest in publicly listed companies (based on market price) didn’t accurately quantify a person’s net worth. Why so? It’s because the liabilities are not factored in, he said. RVO thus thinks it’s preposterous for him to be on this list while the likes of Manny Pangilinan and Ramon Ang—corporate Philippines’ most famous frenemies—are absent from it.
For its part, Forbes Magazine (which started counting billionaires around the world 25 years ago) has used the same formula for years and has no publicly available resource for quantifying liabilities.
“I threatened to sue them. I said, I’m a very poor man,” RVO added. “They said, go ahead sue us, so I didn’t bother.”—Doris C. Dumlao
Back to politics
“The future governor of Negros Oriental” was how RVO described Margarito “Gary” Teves when he was introduced to investors of Alphaland Corp. and Atok-Big Wedge during their annual stockholders’ meeting on Friday.
Teves—a former finance secretary and president of Land Bank of the Philippines—sits on the board of these RVO-led companies as an independent director.
“Yes, [I] intend to do so,” Teves confirmed to Biz Buzz, when asked whether he indeed would run for governor of his province during the elections next year.
Teves, whose family hails from Dumaguete City, is an economist and isn’t a newbie to politics, having represented the 3rd district of Negros Oriental for 11 years starting 1971 (during which he promoted legislation to reform banking and finance, increase foreign investment and build competitiveness while establishing economic safety nets). He was one of the country’s longest-serving finance secretaries, one who persistently pushed for the implementation of VAT reforms to stabilize the government’s then deteriorating finances even when it was politically inconvenient during the Macapagal-Arroyo regime.
Teves said, however, that he would have to work doubly hard to boost his awareness level, especially among the youth. “Those who are 18 to 20 years old today were only five to seven years old in 1998 when I finished my term in Congress. They also constitute the largest percentage of our voters,” he said.—Doris C. Dumlao
During the April 17 public hearing in Baguio City to hear oral arguments about the petition to reverse its 10-3 decision on foreign equity (that common or voting shares, not the combined voting and non-voting shares, should be the basis in the computation of foreign equity in public utilities), all 15 Supreme Court justices were present in the oral argument that lasted for three hours.
Lawyers representing PLDT, the Office of the Solicitor General, Securities and Exchange Commission and Philippine Stock Exchange were there. Also in attendance were petitioners in intervention Pablito Sanidad and Lauro Gamboa, who is now the principal complainant substituting his late father, Wilson Gamboa, who died of a liver ailment in October last year.
According to our source, two of the justices have indicated that they would vote for the reversal while the rest have not indicated a change of heart.
“Although this is too early to tell, a reversal in fortune could be forthcoming as the SC holds another public hearing on June 26 in Manila. I foresee two or more public hearings to sway the SC to decide with finality on the Gamboa case,” the source said.
For the oral arguments in June, Fr. Joaquin Bernas S.J. and Dr. Bernardo Villegas, who were members of the commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution, will be invited as amici curiae to shed light on what had transpired during the formulation of the basic law of the land.—Doris C. Dumlao
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