Razon offers P13/share for remaining Manila Water stocks
Billionaire Enrique Razon Jr. is making a tender offer to the remaining shareholders of beleaguered Manila Water Co. Inc.
Prime Metroline Holdings Inc., the corporate vehicle used by the ports tycoon to invest in the Ayala-led concessionaire, has offered to buy the remaining shares in Manila Water at P13 each, the company said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Friday.
The tender offer followed a series of strategic moves Razon took to take control of the company targeted by the government for an alleged onerous concession deal with the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).
Razon has recently secured a majority voting interest in Manila Water of 51 percent. Ayala’s voting interest in Manila Water will eventually decline to 31.6 percent once the shareholders’ agreement becomes effective.
The tycoon recently made a P10.7-billion equity infusion in exchange for 820 million shares or a 25-percent stake in Manila Water, almost as much as the common shares that the Ayala group now owns.
A senior Ayala official earlier said Ayala Corp. would not sell its remaining stake in Manila Water, but explained that Razon would eventually take over control of the firm as he acquires more shares from other existing owners.
“This (the deal) is not about raising money for Manila water because the group could have advanced any funds the company need,” the official said earlier.
“It is about growing Manila Water in foreign markets, which is Mr. Razon’s specialty,” he added.
The official said the company’s management would stay in place for now but was expected to eventually change as Razon—the country’s fifth wealthiest person with a 2019 net worth estimated at $5.1 billion—succeeds in acquiring more shares.
The entry of Razon is seen to put Manila Water in a better position to deal with current political challenges. This tycoon is an acknowledged expert in navigating regulatory systems in multiple jurisdictions as the chief of port operator International Container Services Inc., one of the Philippine firms with the most extensive global footprint to date.
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