Biz Buzz: Tambunting tussle
Don’t be surprised if you see as many as 150 “homeowners” picketing the head office of Planters Development Bank on Sen. Gil Puyat Ave in Makati City this week.
No, it has nothing to do with the “SME bank” because these protesters are not bank clients. They are residents of a 43-hectare property owned by the Tambunting family in Antipolo City. They will be protesting—based on what we’ve heard—the refusal of Planters Bank chair and CEO, Ambassador Jesus Tambunting, to surrender the original transfer certificates of title (TCTs) that will complete a government plan to acquire the property from the Tambunting family and turn it over to the homeowners. (OK, they were “informal settlers” before the deal was struck.)
To fully understand what the issue is all about, we asked around and learned that about three years ago, five Tambunting siblings agreed to sell the Antipolo property (which they inherited from their parents) to their brother Jesus, known among the well-heeled as “Chuching.”
They turned over the TCTs to him, but he eventually decided to terminate the sale agreement. So his five siblings asked for the titles back, but the ambassador said they must first pay him for the real property taxes that he advanced (about P3 million, we hear). So they gave him a partial payment via check, which he encashed, but—lo and behold—subsequent check payments by the siblings went unencashed.
A family member spoke to Biz Buzz and said they were puzzled why Ambassador Tambunting continued to hold on to the TCTs, while refusing to accept payment for his expenses, despite having set this as the condition for the titles’ return.
In the meantime, Tambunting Realty Corp., controlled by the siblings, had entered into a deal with the National Housing Authority for the government to buy them out and turn over the property to the hundreds of informal settlers who have built their homes on the previously idle land. The deal cannot be finalized precisely because the TCTs are in Ambassador Tambunting’s possession, we were told. (We tried to reach the ambassador through his bank’s spokesperson but have yet to receive a reply.)
We also learned that cracks have started to appear among the formerly solid Tambunting siblings, with two of them having “defected” to Chuching’s side.
This tussle should be worth watching over the coming weeks. Meanwhile, expect to see protesting homeowners on Gil Puyat Ave. one of these days.—Daxim L. Lucas
Whether or not he’ll stay in the family conglomerate or grow his own empire is a hot guessing game topic these days. But Henry Sy Jr., aka “Big Boy,” laughs off persistent rumors of a $1-billion buyout plan by his siblings.
“No such offer,” said the eldest son and namesake of the country’s richest man. Now, if the $1 billion refers to what sister company SM Prime Holdings will have to pay to acquire Big Boy’s pet project SM Development Corp., he says it’s too cheap.
“Just look at its market capitalization,” he said. (That was around P75 billion, or $1.8 billion, as of last Friday).
Looking dapper last Friday in the company of fellow billionaires Lawrence Ho and James Packer of Macau’s Melco group during the signing of the cooperation deal for Belle Grande entertainment complex, Big Boy has voiced support for the upcoming consolidation of SM property units. This union, he said, could happen in 2013.
“It will be a bigger and better company,” Big Boy said. “What we always do is bigger and better. It’s a perfect fit, one with recurring income and the other one with development income. In good times, you have developmental income, in bad times, rental income will be there so shareholders will be happy with this kind of company.”
So what happens to Big Boy once SMDC is folded into its bigger sister SM Prime? A source from SM said he “will have a role and position, and that’s part of the study on folding in. He’s working actively and united with the family on the planned consolidation.”
Meanwhile, we gather that key management changes may soon happen (if it hasn’t already) in SMDC ahead of what is becoming an inevitable union with SM Prime.—Doris C. Dumlao
He has already successfully taken Puregold Price Club Inc. public and is now revitalizing Alcorn Gold Resources Corp., soon to be known as Cosco Capital (which will be his overall holding company), but Chinoy retailing magnate Lucio Co is in talks to acquire yet another listed company. After all, he may need a backdoor listing vehicle for his other interests, particularly those related to capital intensive greenfield power projects, industry sources said.
To recall, Co’s privately held Union Energy Corp. earlier announced a partnership with renewable energy developer Sta. Clara Power Corp. for an
8-megawatt mini-hydropower project in Oriental Mindoro costing about P1.9 billion. Union Energy is likewise undertaking a P1-billion investment in a 9.9-megawatt rice husk biomass power plant in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija.
Folding such interests into a publicly listed vehicle will allow Co to tap the capital market to complete these projects. Our sources said the listed company eyed by Co is Mariwasa Siam Holdings Co. (MMI had a market cap of P6.75 billion as of Friday), currently controlled by stock brokers who have already set in motion the process for by-law changes and extension in corporate life and are expected to flip to Co if and when a deal has been finalized.—Doris C. Dumlao
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