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LandBank to acquire 49% of Philippine Dealing System before end of 2019.

The Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) is eyeing to acquire a 49-percent stake in Philippine Dealing System Holdings Corp. (PDS) from the 21 percent of the stakeholders that is said are ready for their shares to be bought out.

LandBank President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo said they are currently doing due diligence, saying the buyout of about 49 percent shares of the PDS would likely be completed on or before the fourth quarter of this year.

'We are working on the clearances, the regulatory clearances, and we hope to finish it within the year...About 21 percent [is already committed]. [We need a] maximum of 49 percent because we don't want it to become a GOCC [government-owned and -controlled corpoartion],' Borromeo said.

The 49 percent share is lower than what was reported by former LandBank President Alex V. Buenaventura last February of 66.67 percent.

Borromeo explained that the percentage share was lowered to prevent the PDS from becoming a GOCC, as the govenrment wants the company to remain a private entity.

'We did our own valuation but the result would indicate that the offer would stay and we just have to look at again the other legal documents. [We still need] clearances from GCG [Governance Commission for GOCCs], SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission], and BSP [Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas]. We've been submitting documents,' she added.

The expiration for LandBank's offer to buy shares of the PDS at P215 per share was slated to end on January 31 this year, which was extended to March 15 since a number of stakeholders still did not have decisions on whether they will sell or retain their shares.

'We are in the process of conducting legal due diligence to assess the full implication of a potential 49 percent stake in PDS,' Borromeo said.

The LandBank's initial offer in March 2018 was to buy at P360 per share or around P1.5 billion.

The bank revised downward its offer price to P215 per share after the PDS declared dividends of around P600 million last year.

Buenaventura expressed exasperations that the negotiations are taking longer than expected.

He suspects the delay is due to some shareholders' attempt to haggle for a higher offer price with a handful wanting shares purchased at P262 each. However, Buenaventura said LandBank's P215-per-share offer price is final.

LandBank currently owns 1.56 percent of PDS through the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP), while the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) has 69.03 percent of the shares after signing a series of share purchase agreements with stakeholders.

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jul 10, 2019
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