MANILA, Philippines? (UPDATE) Tycoon Henry Sy is bidding for the Lopez family's remaining 13.4 percent stake in power retailer Manila Electric Co. for a hefty premium, heating up the race for the block also sought by the Manuel V. Pangilinan-led First Pacific Co. Ltd. of Hong Kong.
The tycoon's eldest son Henry Sy Jr. on Friday confirmed that he had submitted an offer to the Lopezes to acquire their remaining shares in Meralco through privately held Triratna Holdings Corp.
"The plan reflects our confidence in the future prospects of the power sector in general and Meralco in particular. Our offer price represents a fair market value for such assets," said the younger Sy, who is president of Triratna.
Sy did not say how much he had offered for the stake but INQUIRER sources said the tycoon's family was willing to buy all the remaining Lopez shares at P300 per share or near the historical high level hit by Meralco earlier this year.
The Lopezes own a remaining 13.4-percent stake equivalent to about 147.4 million shares in Meralco. It was earlier announced that only half of this stake is for sale for now, but the Sy family wants the whole block as its stepping stone into Meralco.
The 13.4-percent remaining Lopez stake in Meralco is under First Philippine Holdings Corp., which is obliged to give Pangilinan's group the right of first refusal on the stake.
The vehicle to be used by the Sys for the potential acquisition, Triratna, was among those pre-qualified to bid for the 25-year concession of the National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) in 2006. The Sy family, thus, first attempted to break into the energy-related business when Triratna led the consortium that bid for Transco in 2007. Its partners in the consortium were Newbridge of the US and Tenaga National Bhd. of Malaysia.
The major shareholders of Triratna at the time of the TransCo bidding included San Miguel pres. Ramon Ang and Joselito Campos of Unilab.
Triratna will be majority owned by the Henry Sy Jr. group after it completes the buy out of its original partners, Sy said.