Dennis Uy snaps up H2O Ventures

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Dennis Uy -- AFP

DAVAO-BASED businessman Dennis A. Uy continues his acquisition spree with the purchase of shares in Philippine H2O Ventures Corp. (H2O) worth P327.75 million, in a potential backdoor listing move by his property firm. 

In a disclosure to the stock exchange late Tuesday, H2O’s parent firm Jolliville Holdings Corp. said its board of directors approved a memorandum of agreement for Mr. Uy’s Udenna Development Corp. (UDEVCO) to buy out all its shares in H2O. Jolliville and its affiliates currently own 62.006%, or 150.82 million stocks, of H2O’s total outstanding shares. 

Incorporated in 2009, H2O is a holding firm that has core interests in water supply primarily through its subsidiary Calapan Waterworks Corp. (CWWC). The company serves a total of 22 urban barangays and 13 adjoining rural barangays, for total household connections of 13,384 as of 2016. 

For the transaction, H2O will be spinning off all its existing business and assets, including all its shares and interest in CWWC. 

“H2O shall also collect all receivables, settle all its obligations, assign its contractual interests, transfer or reassign all of its employees and settle and dissolve its retirement fund,” Jolliville said in its disclosure. 

The acquisition is currently valued at P327.74 million and 62.006% of the remaining cash assets of H2O once the deal is closed. 

For its part, UDEVCO will be launching a mandatory tender offer for the H2O shares, as per the Securities Regulation Code. 

UDEVCO is the property investment arm of Mr. Uy’s holding firm, Udenna Corp. Under its helm is Lapu-Lapu Land Corp., which is currently developing a 12.5-hectare integrated resort and development estate in Mactan Island in Cebu. 

The $341-million Lapu-Lapu Leisure Mactan project will house a casino, retail complex, and hotels. The company target to complete the development of the estate by 2022, but looks to start operations as early as 2019. 

In an interview earlier this month, Udenna Director for special projects Raymond Martin M. Escalona said the group may go for listing of Lapu-Lapu Land, noting that they are still mulling the possibility of an initial public offering (IPO) or a backdoor listing. 

A backdoor listing is pursued when a privately held company cannot meet the criteria for an IPO.

Mr. Uy, a known supporter of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, has recently been ramping up the expansion of his businesses. In June this year, the businessman conducted an initial public offering for his logistics arm Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp., where the company raised P5.84 billion.

Aside from Chelsea, Mr. Uy also owns listed companies Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc. and 2GO Group, Inc. — Arra B. Francia