Friday, October 24, 2014

COCKTALES | PAL to remain public despite thinning float

By: Victor C. Agustin means BUSINESS
PAL Holdings will remain publicly-listed even after the conclusion of a tender offer extended to the minority shareholders by Lucio Tan, following the taipan's successful buyback of the 49-percent stake held by its short-lived partner, the San Miguel Group.

"The voluntary tender offer is not for the purpose of delisting PAL Holdings in the Philippine Stock Exchange," the company said in a statement over the weekend.

The offer was being made, the statement said, "in order to give the minority shareholders in both PAL Holdings and Philippines Airlines the chance to sell their shares at the same economic terms and conditions as agreed with the San Miguel Equity Investments Inc."

With the San Miguel buyback, Tan once again controls nearly 90 percent of PAL Holdings, which in turn owns over 98 percent of the flag carrier.

Even without the tender offer, PAL Holdings as of Friday only had 10.22 percent of its shareholding classified as held by the public, barely above the 10-percent threshold before the company gets penalized with delisting.

Among the recognizable minority shareholders, other than the stock brokerages, include the Roman Catholic Bishop of Cebu, the late corporate lawyer Romeo Villonco, mining heir Arthur Antonino and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Provident Fund.

Asked about the possibility of PAL Holdings going private in the event of the minority shareholders rushing to take advantage of the tender offer, a PAL official said: "If all the existing minority sell, PAL Holdings Inc. will then make arrangement with the PSE to give PAL Holdings time to comply with the minimum 10 percent float."

The tender offer comes amid industry speculation that the 80-year-old taipan will eventually take in a foreign partner that will acquire the maximum 40-percent stake that is allowed under the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the planned New York flights that will be launched on March 15 will solely be operated by PAL, and will not be operated under a code-sharing agreement with Cathay Pacific as reported in an industry website.

PAL issued the clarification amid last Monday's report, quoting fare website Skyscanner, that the Vancouver-to-New York JFK leg of the PAL flight will be operated by the Hong Kong carrier.

3-in-1 justices corner Boulevard cases

What is the statistical probability of three raffled cases all ending up in the same division out of 17?

Three cases involving the takeover claims of Waterfront hotel chain owner William Gatchalian against the shuttered Grand Boulevard have all landed with the First Division of the Court of Appeals, with two of those cases already decided against the ill-fated hotel of the Panlilios.

Citing statistical improbability and bias, an alarmed Grand Boulevard chairman/president Jose Marcel Panlilio last week filed an urgent motion asking appellate justices Apolonio Bruselas Jr. and Samuel Gaerlan, but not division chair Andres Reyes Jr., to inhibit themselves from hearing the third related case that had been raffled to them.

Panlilio made the counter-move after the same appellate division last month overturned and cited Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag for grave abuse of discretion, effectively sidelining the lady judge and favoring Gatchalian.

The appellate court setback came despite the Supreme Court last June 11 ruling that the Panlilio clan had already redeemed the 1,493-square-meter parking lot beside the boarded-up hotel from the City of Manila, said Grand Boulevard counsel Marlo Cristobal.

The lawyer also said the previous injunctive relief and stay order that the Manila Regional Trial Court had extended to the beleaguered hotel as a consequence of its petition for rehabilitation has shielded the property from creditors and claimants like Gatchalian and the City of Manila.

Gatchalian is represented in the Court of Appeals by Gancayco Balasbas and Associates.

Urdaneta feud widens

The homeowners' feud among the senores and senoras of Urdaneta Apartments not only has been prolonged but has now even widened.

Dr. Daniel Vasquez and his ally, Maria Pacita Cruz, have managed to round up a few neighbors in the persons Lourdes Moy and of brother-and-sister Frederick Dee and Christine Dee-Araneta and last week filed yet another court case against the board of the homeowners' association.

In a derivative suit at the Makati Regional Trial Court, Vasquez and his allies are seeking the appointment of a receiver, ironically similar to a case filed by the Urdaneta board also last week, as well an accounting of funds and a stop to the homeowners' association underwriting the legal defense of board members being sued by Vasquez.

The homeowners' feud erupted over the issue of the costs of repainting and fireproofing the nearly five-decade-old building.

But the end game of the homeowners' fireworks, if resident S. Cuttle Butt is to be believed, is a potentially lucrative plan to redevelop the country's first residential condominium and maximize its already antiquated floor-to-area ratio.

Ombudsman gives Arroyo lawyer his day

He may be on the wrong side of the political fence, but Mike Arroyo counsel Jesus Santos has been given by the Ombudsman his proverbial day in court.

Director Mothalib Onos of the Ombudsman's Preliminary Investigation Administrative Adjudicative Bureau has ordered president Roberto Vergara of the Government Service Insurance System and Mario Aguja, chairman of the GSIS Provident Fund, to answer Santos' complaint as to why his provident fund benefits as a retired GSIS board member was being withheld when another GMA appointee, Vergara's predecessor Winston Garcia, had received his.

Vergara, in an earlier communication with Santos, claimed that the GSIS had yet to obtain clearance from the Commission on Audit on whether or not the 88-year-old retiree is indeed entitled to the provident fund benefits.

In addition to Santos, Vergara has also withheld the retirement benefits of another GSIS trustee, the late National Artist Alejandro Roces, whose dying wish was to donate his modest retirement benefits to cultural causes.

Heard through the grapevine

Snail mail and Christmas cards are apparently still alive and well in Malacanang.

P.Noy's social secretary, former model Susan Reyes, will be mailing out 2,500 Yuletide cards to a select circle of the so-called KKK friends, Cabinet officials, diplomats and a few one percenters this coming season of joy.


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