Ramon Ang takes full control of San Miguel CorporationBy Daxim L. Lucas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Ramon S. Ang on Friday took full control of conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) after its chair, Eduardo Cojuangco Jr., sold a huge chunk of his stake in the diversified firm to his hard-charging protégé.
The deal—valued at P27.61 billion for an 11-percent stake in the country’s largest conglomerate—cements Ang’s hold on the company that he has been running as president and chief operating officer since 2007.
“This is good timing for ECJ (Cojuangco),” said Wealth Securities research head Bernard Aviñante.
“SMC has flourished under his watch and now accounts for a good percentage of our gross domestic product,” Aviñante said.
He said that under Ang’s management, San Miguel is now “in every growth sector of our country and still continues to be an investor [in major growth projects].”
The change in leadership takes on an impressive turn, however, when juxtaposed with Ang’s humble beginnings as a businessman.
Frequently mislabeled by friends and critics alike as having started out as an “auto mechanic,” Ang actually began his long ascent in the early 1970s, buying surplus car engines from Japan, refurbishing them and selling them at a profit.
“I would buy them for $50 and sell them for $100, for example,” he said in an earlier interview. He counted the members of Manila’s drag racing circuit as his clients, including one Mark Cojuangco, who introduced the young Ramon Ang to his father, Eduardo Cojuangco.
As is often related in business circles—whether accurate or apocryphal—the elder Cojuangco asked Ang to examine one of his prized cars that had broken down, and Ang was able to repair it. Thus started, as the story goes, a friendship that would eventually see “RSA” take control of San Miguel some four decades later.
While Ang has been running the day-to-day operations of San Miguel for several years now, Cojuangco’s influence has remained strong, with Ang regularly consulting his mentor before making major acquisitions or business deals, according to sources familiar with the conglomerate’s workings.
Cojuangco’s imprimatur was crucial when Ang, beginning in 2007, steered what was then Southeast Asia’s largest food and beverage firm into a slew of new investments in fields where it had no prior experience.
The move was met with skepticism by investors and market observers, many of whom were more comfortable with seeing the company protect its leadership position in the beer, softdrink and processed food businesses.
“When we started to diversify, people said I was crazy,” the 57-year-old told the Inquirer last month. “But when you look at how far we’ve come today, do you think we made the right move or not?”
According to Bloomberg, San Miguel has spent no less than $4.8 billion—funded by a mix of equity, debt and internally generated cash—for 24 corporate acquisitions since its diversification shift in 2007.
This figure excludes its recent $500-million acquisition of a 49-percent stake in, and management control of, flag carrier Philippine Airlines.
The change in leadership at the conglomerate also comes after the Supreme Court declared Cojuangco the rightful owner of a significant bloc of shares in San Miguel after years of dispute with the government.
Born in Manila on Jan. 14, 1954, Ang graduated from Far Eastern University in 1981 with a degree in mechanical engineering.
He was appointed president and chief operating officer of San Miguel in March 2002, following the retirement of Francisco Eizmendi.
In a 2009 Inquirer report, Ang said his relationship with Cojuangco “goes back as far as his humble beginnings as the proprietor of a small firm that specialized in reconditioning surplus engines.”
Apart from heading San Miguel Corp., Ang is also president and COO of PAL Holdings, Philippine Airlines, Trustmark Holdings Corp. and Zuma Holdings and Management Corp.; chair and CEO of Petron Corp., Petron Marketing Corp., and SMC Global Power Holdings Corp.; vice chair of Manila Electric Co., Ginebra San Miguel, San Miguel Pure Foods Co. and San Miguel Yamamura Haiphong Glass Co. Ltd. (Vietnam).
He also holds the position of chair and president in various other companies, including San Miguel Properties, San Miguel Electric Corp., San Miguel Energy Corp., Lode Mining Ventures Corp., Bell Telecommunication Phil., San Miguel Beverages and San Miguel Holdings Corp.
Ang also chairs San Miguel Brewery, San Miguel Foods, San Miguel Paper Packaging Corp., and South Luzon Tollway Corp.
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