Seacem sells P1.14B shares in LafargeBy Doris C. Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Cement manufacturing holding firm Southeast Asia Cement Holdings Inc. (Seacem) on Tuesday sold a 2.3-percent interest in majority-owned Lafarge Republic Inc. (LRI) to local institutional investors for P1.14 billion.
Based on their respective disclosures to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Seacem sold 136 million of its LRI shares at P8.40 per share. The sale was priced at a 9.7-percent discount to Lafarge’s last traded price of P9.30 on August 29 and consummated through a special block sale on the local stock exchange.
Apart from raising fresh funds, Seacem’s move to trim its stake in the subsidiary is part of measures to boost the public float of LRI to meet the 10 percent minimum required by the Philippine Stock Exchange for continuing listing.
The transaction beefed up Lafarge’s public ownership to 6 percent from 3.7 percent, which still falls short of the PSE requirement. Seacem, however, earlier obtained approval from its board to tap various options to sell some shares in LRI, such as through a property dividend or share swap.
LRI is one of the 27 publicly listed companies facing trading suspension by the first trading day of 2013 if they are unable to meet the minimum public float requirement. But the company has said it’s confident of meeting the 10 percent public float requirement before the year’s end.
An associated company of international building materials leader Lafarge, LRI earlier announced plans to increase its production capacity by the first quarter of 2013, supplying an additional one million tons of cement per year throughout the Philippines after a set of investment projects is completed. LRI is investing to revamp its Danao, Cebu, grinding plant and to ease bottlenecks in its Norzagaray, Bulacan, mill.
LRI said it experienced strong demands for its products and services from both public and private construction investments in the first half of 2012 and expects another year of sales and earnings growth in 2013.
Engaged in the manufacture, development, exploitation and sale of cement, marble and all other kinds and classes of building materials as well as the processing or manufacture of materials for any industrial or commercial purposes, LRI has P28.9 billion assets based on its balance sheet as of end-June.
Net profit attributable to equity holders of parent increased by 8.5 percent year on year to P1.53 billion in the first semester. This was on the back of net sales, which grew by 12 percent to P9.83 billion year on year on higher volume and recovery in average selling prices.
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