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Benitez raises offer to STI to P644.44M.

The Benitez family has increased its settlement offer to STI Holdings to P644.44 million from P550 million in yet another bid to reach an amicable settlement in the ownership row over Philippine Women's University (PWU).

The new offer was made in a second letter to STI Holdings president Monico Jacob dated Feb. 27, 2015 and signed by PWU president Dr. Francisco Benitez.

"We again propose that we settle amicably the (PWU) issue," Dr. Benitez said in the letter noting that, "your recent purchase of Attenborough has changed the total amounts owed to you, which were not considered in the earlier offer."

Dr. Benitez was referring to Attenborough Holdings Corporation which was acquired by STI Holdings. The new proposal takes into account a P65 million loan extended by Attenborough to Unlad Resources Development Corporation, the corporate arm of the Benitez family.

The Benitez family is proposing a downpayment of P150 million to be paid within three weeks from reaching an agreement, and the balance of P494.44 million to be paid within a period of six months.

"We believe that the above offer of payment, which assumes a return of 8 percent per annum plus VAT, is a workable, rational, and reasonable solution that shall safeguard the school's operations from further disruption, and the school's community from further instability, while at the same time provide STI Holdings a fair rate of return for its loans to PWU and UNLAD," Benitez explained.

STI Holdings had acquired PWU's loan with BDO worth P223 million in 2011 and loaned P198 million to Unlad. But STI Holdings declared the Benitez family in default of its obligations late last year and demanded P923 million as payment for the loans.

Meanwhile, PWU Media Director Lydia Benitez-Brown also reiterated the family's commitment to settling all its obligations to STI Holdings.

"This latest offer to settle with STI Holdings is consistent with the family's commitment to settle all its obligations under fair and just terms. We hope Mr. Eusebio Tanco will consider the offer, as we believe it is fair to all parties," Brown said.

She added that "our main concern is for the school. Reaching an amicable settlement with STI Holdings and Tanco will be very good news for the school, the students and their parents, and for the faculty and staff."

The alumni of both the PWU and the Jose Abad Santos Memorial School (JASMS), which had earlier voiced concern over the ownership row between the Benitez family and the Tanco group, said they continue to support the leadership of Dr. Benitez and PWU Chairperson Dr. Helena Z. Benitez.

PWU alumni who attended the university's annual homecoming last week, including the alumni associations of Southern California and Chicago/Midwest, said they continue to support the Benitez family's efforts to preserve the educational vision and mission of the university.


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Title Annotation:Business News
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Mar 3, 2015
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