Leviste scion gains foothold in ABS-CBN

Leviste scion gains foothold in ABS-CBN

Leandro Leviste

Leandro Leviste —Contributed photo

Leandro Leviste, the 31-year-old founder of SP New Energy Corp. (SPNEC) and son of Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, has bought an 8.5-percent stake in ABS-CBN Corp., making him the second largest shareholder after the Lopez Group.

Leviste announced on Thursday his entry into the media giant that currently has around P12.6 billion in debt obligations.


While the pricing was not disclosed, ABS-CBN shares surged by 18.06 percent to P5.10 each on Thursday, signaling positive sentiment and valuing Leviste’s stake at around P390 million.


“I hope there may now be a way for us to be of help, for the benefit of ABS-CBN’s shareholders and employees, and the media industry of the Philippines,” Leviste said in a statement.

His stake is composed of 75.88 million ABS-CBN shares held by his company, LL Holdings Inc., while Countryside Investments Holdings Corp., another Leviste-owned firm, holds 619,000 ABS-CBN Holdings Corp. shares that are in the process of being converted into ABS-CBN shares.

ABS-CBN Holdings is a separate entity that issues Philippine Depositary Receipts to foreign investors as a way to raise capital.

Senator Legarda—who had been an ABS-CBN news anchor from 1986 to 1998—abstained from voting on the renewal of its franchise in 2020, citing “conflict of interest,” for which she drew much public ire. Congress later denied the franchise application, displacing thousands of employees as ABS-CBN went off the air.

Astro del Castillo, managing director at First Grade Holdings, said Leviste’s investment would “surely provide ABS-CBN with the much-needed capital to fund operations, expand its reach and invest in new content, which eventually could attract more advertisers and investors.”

ABS-CBN continued to absorb the losses of its broadband and cable television unit last year, with losses widening to P12.8 billion from P2.6 billion previously.


Still, Del Castillo said the deal was a “good opportunity” for Leviste to diversify his business portfolio and reduce overall risk.

“His new investment allows him to explore other opportunities within the ABS-CBN group as well,” he added.

Juan Paolo Colet, managing director at investment bank China Bank Capital Corp., said Leviste had “a knack for finding undervalued companies that have turnaround potential.”

“The market should pay attention to what he will do next in ABS-CBN, in particular whether he plans to join the board and how active will he be in shaping the company’s strategic direction,” Colet said in a Viber message.

Leviste in December sold his majority stake in SPNEC to a unit of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) for P15.9 billion to help fund his 3,500-megawatt solar project.

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In March, Leviste also became the largest individual shareholder of listed Roxas and Company Inc. after acquiring a 7.55-percent stake.

TAGS: ABS-CBN, Leandro Leviste

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