by James Loyola
Business tycoon Ramon S. Ang, president of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation, pulled a fast one by acquiring majority control of broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) from the Prieto family to add to his existing media ownership in CNN Philippines.
In a mobile message, Ang confirmed that he made the acquisition in his personal capacity and not through SMC. Inquirer Group of Companies Chair Marixi Prieto also issued a statement confirming the sale. Prieto said Ang will be undertaking due diligence review “soon.”
According to Prieto, the divestment “culminates a series of talks that began between the two parties in 2014, and restarted early this year after the Prieto family completed its annual review of business plans in the Inquirer Group and other business interests.”
Interestingly, Ang’s usual rival in business acquisitions and public biddings, Manuel Pangilinan of PLDT, also has a minority interest in Inquirer. Pangilinan owns a 13-percent stake in Inquirer through Excel Pacific Holding Corp.
Prior to Ang’s entry, the Inquirer was 60-percent owned by LRP, Inc., a holding company of the Prieto family.
Philstocks analyst Justino Calaycay Jr. said the acquisition should not affect the share prices of SMC and its subsidiaries since this is a personal investment of Ang and not the publicly-listed conglomerate.
He noted though that share prices of SMC, Ginebra San Miguel, Inc. (GSMI), and San Miguel Pure Foods Company all gained on Monday. SMC was up P0.40 or 0.39 percent to P102.90 per share, GSMI gained P0.20 or 1.35 percent to close at P15.00 share, while Pure Foods rose P3.00 or 0.99 percent to P305 per share. Petron Corp. was up P0.03 or 0.32 percent at P9.61 and Top Frontier Investment Holdings down P0.20 or 0.07 percent at P303.80.
The Prieto family’s statement further noted that the decision to divest after 25 years is a strategic business decision that it believes will maximize growth opportunities for the Inquirer Group.
The family expressed confidence that “Ang will uphold the Inquirer Group’s commitment to pursuing the highest standards of journalism. His investments and business expertise will unlock added value in the Inquirer Group’s newspaper publication, Internet communications, social media, corporate skills training, radio broadcasting, and logistics delivery.”
“I am looking forward to be part of this venerable institution and work with the men and women who make it what it is now. The publication will continue to uphold the highest journalistic standards and make a difference in the society it serves,” Ang said in a statement.
Meantime, the hard-hitting newspaper and a known critic of the Duterte administration said that all existing employment contracts of the Inquirer Group will remain in effect.
“Both parties acknowledged that the multi-media organization is where it is today because of the caliber of its people, dedicated to the continuing vision and mission of empowering Filipinos by telling their stories,” the statement concluded.