STATE-LED Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) said that it plans to remain a shareholder of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) even after the completion of the latter’s voluntary delisting. 

“The GSIS is aware that a petition for voluntary delisting of MPIC has been filed with the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE). The GSIS intends to remain a shareholder of MPIC after the completion of the voluntary delisting,” GSIS Corporate Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer Luz Victoria F. Reyes Morando said in a letter to the stock exchange on Wednesday. 

The letter was disclosed by MPIC to the local bourse. The firm’s tender offer deadline will conclude on Sept. 7 while it is expected to be delisted on Oct. 9.

The GSIS’ letter followed its recent acquisition of additional common shares in MPIC, which resulted in an aggregate holding of 3,438,549,098 common shares, equivalent to 12% of the company’s total issued and outstanding listed shares.

With this, the pension fund said its MPIC stocks are now deemed nonpublic shares.

“The GSIS understands that based on the PSE Rule on minimum public ownership, any shareholders with a holding of 10% or greater of total issued and outstanding shares shall be considered nonpublic. Pursuant to this rule, the GSIS understands that its shares in MPIC are now considered nonpublic shares,” it said. 

“The GSIS shall furnish the initial statement of beneficial ownership of securities to MPIC and the PSE once filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).”

Sought for comment, China Bank Capital Corp. Managing Director Juan Paolo E. Colet said the GSIS’ move to acquire more MPIC shares “caught many investors by surprise given its speed, scale, and context.”

“While we can only speculate on the rationale, it appears to be a strategic move to give GSIS enough leverage to influence the take-private plans of MPIC and potentially get a much better financial outcome for the state pension fund,” Mr. Colet said.

He added that there is a possibility that MPIC’s planned voluntary delisting would not push through or “may eventually push through under different terms.”

Aside from the GSIS, another state-led agency that has a stake in MPIC is the Social Security System (SSS), which has 645,397,300 common shares as of the listed firm’s latest list of top 100 stockholders of common shares dated July 12.

Asked about this, Mr. Colet said it could be possible that the two agencies could partner to create a “government voting block” but said that the SSS is not expected to purchase more MPIC shares. 

“I don’t expect SSS to do something similar, but the situation is fluid and it’s possible that they can partner with GSIS to create a ‘government voting block’ in MPIC,” Mr. Colet said via mobile phone. 

“It would promote consensus decision-making since the interests of all parties would have to be considered,” he added.

Mr. Colet said the shares held by the GSIS would reduce the MPIC’s public float.

“Depending on the resulting float, MPIC may be removed from the index. If it falls below 10%, trading of shares will be suspended and it will be a ground for delisting,” Mr. Colet said.

In July, the consortium of companies that intend to acquire greater control over MPIC and take it private sent a higher tender offer price of P5.20 per share.

The new offer went up by 12.3% from the P4.63 per share initially offered by the consortium, which is backed by First Pacific Co. Ltd., GT Capital Holdings, Inc. and Mitsui & Co. Ltd.

MPIC is one of the three key Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific, the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority share in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.

On Wednesday, shares of MPIC at the local bourse fell ten centavos or 1.96% to end at P5 apiece. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave