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Biz Buzz: Baffling bids

/ 06:58 AM May 01, 2015

Whenever a company acquires a large, high-value asset, it normally goes through a strict compliance and due-diligence protocol. This is especially true for listed companies, which are ultimately accountable to the public for the purchase decisions that they make.

Now imagine if you were a shareholder in a company that decided to bid for an 18.4-hectare lot valued at a minimum of P16.4 billion. The problem is, the property has been embroiled in countless legal disputes since the 1970s and the existing tenants—a good number of them—are exhausting all measures to remain where they are.

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To make matters worse, the group that arranged for the bid in the first place has announced that it “does not have possession of 10 out of the 18.4 hectares.” In effect, they’re selling something that they don’t hold right now. That makes the entire process a rather dicey and complicated affair.

Yet, this is precisely the situation that shareholders of Ayala Land, San Miguel Corp. and the SM Group are facing right now after they expressed interest in the so-called “Payanig sa Pasig” property that is being put to a bid by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).

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No less than PCGG Chair Andres Bautista has told the press that these three firms were interested in acquiring the 18.4-hectare lot in the Ortigas central business district despite the fact that the bid was on an “as-is, it’s-up-to-you-to-fix-all-the-problems” basis.

Some watchers are looking at the affair with raised eyebrows since the PCGG appears to have swept under the rug one of the basic requirements for such a sale to become a success, namely, showing a valid title that proves ownership of the land.

At least one party is now raising a ruckus. Records indicate that the title may belong to a company called BLEMP Commercial Philippines Inc., which has paid almost a billion pesos in real estate taxes for the property since the late 1980s.

Market watchers and property analysts are now scratching their heads trying to come up with a rational explanation why these listed companies would even consider throwing their hat into an already messy ring. Oh, and we almost forgot to mention: There’s a non-refundable fee of P100,000 for simply expressing formal interest to join the bidding.–Daxim L. Lucas

 

Never say die

But don’t tell the PCGG that the aforesaid transaction is impossible to execute.

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No, sir. We’re told that the agency’s head, Andres Bautista, has already received no less than seven expressions of interest from various parties who are interested in the prime piece of land.

Note, of course, that the Payanig property is probably the last large piece of (relatively) undeveloped land in the Ortigas CBD. That would certainly command a premium from would-be buyers, but then again, taking possession of the property from its current holders may pose a very delicate problem for any prospective winner.

At present, ownership is being claimed by Ortigas & Co. (which says it was illegally wrestled from the Ortigas family by the Marcos regime), the PCGG (which seized it from the Campos family post-Edsa Revolution) and Blemp Commercial (which occupies the property). Messy business.

As for the PCGG’s rationale for embarking on a bidding process for the property right now, Biz Buzz learned that the thinking among the agency’s hierarchy was that, unless something drastic was done, the Payanig ownership dispute would go on for another 20 years, at least. So better get the government out of that mess now.

We gather from the PCGG camp that seven parties have already bought bid documents for the property (for a cool P100,000 fee each).

But whether this gambit would result in actual bids (of the magnitude the PCGG expects to see) is another thing entirely.–Daxim L. Lucas

Cebu marvel

Cebu will experience the unveiling Friday of one of the most modern healthcare facilities in the country, with the soft launch of the University of Cebu Medical Center in Mandaue City to be graced by no less than President Aquino.

Owned by the Gotianuy family, the new hospital recently passed the Department of Health’s accreditation process with flying colors, with one health official noting that the new institution was comparable to a Singaporean hospital in terms of facilities and ambience.

It has a garden on the 6th-floor podium that was outfitted with a jogging track for the rehabilitation center (with palm trees and landscaping!) and a 200-seat conference room.

And, apparently, word has gotten around that this event is a big deal. Initially, it was just President Aquino who was scheduled to make an appearance, but the presidential entourage has now ballooned to at least nine Cabinet secretaries.

Security will be tight with at least 200 members of the elite Presidential Security Group being specially flown in to provide VIP security, on top of the massive local security apparatus already in place.

(The advance party of presidential guards have temporarily transformed the hospital into their own barracks, we hear.)

For would-be patients, the hospital dubbed “UCMed” will focus on minimally invasive surgery (MIS) that requires having the newest and first fully integrated operating room in Southeast Asia. It also has the biggest number of laparoscopy and endoscopy suites in the country. No other facility has as many (five).

We understand the facility will be ready to receive its first outpatient clients starting next month.

And with that, the temperature of the fierce rivalry in the Cebu healthcare scene was just raised by a couple of notches.–Daxim L. Lucas

Frugal Pacquiao fans

The Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight is set to rank among the richest in history and ticket prices are soaring through the roof. But not everyone with the means to watch is jetting off to Las Vegas for Sunday’s fight.

The family of the Philippines’ wealthiest man, Henry Sy Sr., is staying right here to, well, work, Sy Sr.’s son Harley told Biz Buzz.

“I think it’s in our culture to be in the office,” quipped Harley, who runs the family’s conglomerate SM Investments Corp. as its president.

We know work and family time are intertwined concepts for the close-knit Sy family, based on an incredibly insightful article published by Bloomberg last year, and this Sunday is not going to be any different.

“Even on Sunday, the family talks about work,” he said. Harley added that tickets—which average $7,000 on the secondary market—were quite “expensive.”

We don’t really believe that. Then again, the Sys are not the only occupants of Forbes Magazine’s 10 richest Filipinos lacking an appointment at the MGM Grand this weekend.

It seems the Gokongwei family, too, is sitting this one out, said Frederick Go, president of Robinsons Land.

“We can watch here. None of us are paid enough,” Go quipped. Okay, whatever.–Miguel R. Camus

E-mail us at [email protected] Get business alerts and a preview of Biz Buzz the evening before it comes out. Text ON INQ BUSINESS to 4467 (P2.50/alert)

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TAGS: Andres Bautista, bids, BLEMP Commercial Philippines, Cebu, Gokongwei, Gotianuy family, Henry Sy Sr., hospitals, megafight, Ortigas & Co., Pacquiao-Mayweather fight, Payanig sa Pasig, PCGG, property, University of Cebu Medical Center
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