SMC takes control of Meralco shares held by pension fund

San Miguel CorporationA UNIT of conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is taking control of the Social Security System’s (SSS) 5.58-percent stake in Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), marking the formal transfer of the shares acquired three years ago.

A filing to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Wednesday showed that SMC subsidiary SMC Global Power Holdings Corp. is acquiring the 62.99 million Meralco shares at P90 per share via a special block sale.

The deal was sealed with the pension fund in 2009 and was paid in several installments, with the last payment scheduled in January this year.

“With the sale, the indirect ownership of the company in Meralco shall be at 32.39 percent,” SMC said in its disclosure.

SMC Global Power Holdings Corp., now the conglomerate’s power generation arm, was formerly known as Global 5000 Investment Inc., a firm partly led by the group of former Trade minister and businessman Roberto V. Ongpin.

This group is now behind Top Frontier Investment Holdings Inc., the unlisted company that owns a controlling stake in SMC and is itself partly owned by the conglomerate.

The acquisition of the SSS-held Meralco stake and that of shares held by the Government Service Insurance System was part of efforts by SMC to gain control of the electricity retailer in line with its diversification away from its core businesses in food and beverage.

SMC went head-to-head against Manuel V. Pangilinan-led First Pacific Co. Ltd., whose units Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp., eventually secured a near-controlling stake in Meralco with its current 48-percent stake.

Meralco shares declined 1.46 percent to P243 per share on Wednesday’s trading while SMC dropped 0.17 percent to P114.20 per share.

In a separate disclosure, SMC confirmed a published report that it plans to sell a new series of preferred shares this year. SMC president Ramon S. Ang confirmed in a separate text message that the company plans to raise about P80 billion from the share sale, as indicated in the report.

SMC disclosed in April that it plans to issue 1.1 billion Series 2 preferred shares but did not indicate the offer price. SMC also plans to increase its authorized capital stock to P30 billion from P22.5 billion.



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