MVP sells 25% Rockwell stake to Lopez family
Lopezes out to cement their grip on property firmBy Doris C. Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The group of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is set to sell its stake of about 25 percent in newly listed Rockwell Land Corp. to the Lopezes, allowing the family to cement a controlling interest in the upscale property developer.
The divestment by the First Pacific group of its interest in Rockwell, which is worth about P5 billion based on current market prices, has been expected for some time by some industry observers given that the property development is no longer among the Pangilinan group’s core interests in the Philippines.
“We are not into property. Our plan is to sell the shares in Rockwell to the Lopezes,” Pangilinan told reporters at the sidelines of the annual stockholders’ meeting of Metro Pacific Investments Corp.
Pangilinan estimated that his group had an interest of about 24 to 25 percent in Rockwell. When Manila Electric Co. declared as property dividend its 51 percent stake in Rockwell, shareholders of Meralco, including the Pangilinan group, received the same shares in the property company.
The group’s interest in Meralco is held by holding firm Beacon Electric Asset Holdings (Beacon), which is jointly owned by Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and Philippine Communications and Energy Ventures.
Beacon thus holds the Pangilinan group’s resulting interest in Rockwell after the property dividend declaration.
Pangilinan said he had talked about the planned divestment with the Lopezes and that there was already an indicative pricing for the block.
“It will be disclosed as soon as we’ve documented,” Pangilinan said, adding that the deal would enable the Lopezes to consolidate their interest in Rockwell.
The Metro Pacific group was previously involved in the Philippine property business after winning the bid for the privatization of the sprawling Fort Bonifacio military camp in Taguig.
In the 2000s, when the principal stockholder, the Salim family, wanted to pull out investments in the Philippines, Pangilinan fought to keep control of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and gave up Fort Bonifacio. The interest in Fort Bonifacio, now known as Bonifacio Global City, was sold to the Ayala-Campos group.
Pangilinan later restructured the business of Metro Pacific and refocused on infrastructure, picking up the assets divested by the Lopezes such as Manila North toll road and Maynilad Water concessions.
The eventual sale by the Lopezes of most of their shares in Meralco also allowed Pangilinan’s group to become the single biggest shareholder in the country’s largest power distributor.
Based on Rockwell’s market capitalization as of Friday, a quarter of the property firm is worth about P5 billion.
The Lopezes’ First Philippine Holdings currently owns about 51 percent of Rockwell after the dividend declaration. The family’s purchase of Beacon’s stake will thus hike its interest close to 75 percent of Rockwell’s outstanding shares.
Rockwell listed on the local stock exchange by way of introduction—or without any public offering earlier this month. This was after the property dividend declaration.
The property company started operations in 1995 by redeveloping an old thermal power plant in Makati into an upscale mixed-use community now known as Rockwell Center. The property now has seven residential towers, a shopping mall, a leisure club, a graduate school and two office buildings (Nestle and Phinma). Rockwell also has an office complex in Ortigas and a new mixed-use community called “The Grove” in Ortigas. Most of Rockwell’s businesses come from condominium development, while recurring income including rental of shopping mall space at the Power Plant Mall and other office developments accounts for 40 percent.
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