THE Bitanga family, known for its diversified investment portfolio, is moving its 31.2% stake in Rappler Holdings Corp., the company behind news site Rappler, from privately held Dolphin Fire Group, Inc. to publicly listed MRC Allied, Inc., both owned by the family.

“We would like to inform the exchange that on (April 4), the board of directors approved that MRC Allied will purchase significant ownership interest in Rappler Holdings Corp., the principal owner of an internationally recognized digital online platform,” the listed holding company told the stock exchange on Thursday.

MRC Allied, engaged in property development, mining exploration, and renewable power generation, plans to acquire Dolphin Fire’s ownership stake in Rappler Holdings through a share swap. This means MRC will exchange its own stocks for Dolphin Fire’s shares.

Dolphin Fire is a holding company with media and entertainment investments across Southeast Asia.

In a Viber message, Alfred Benjamin R. Garcia, a senior research analyst at AP Securities, Inc., said that this move might be linked to MRC’s expansion into the information and communications technology sector, following its earlier investment in Philippine Telegraph & Telephone Corp. (PT&T).

“It could potentially tie in with their plan to revitalize PT&T as a major player in the telco game, but so far the rationale for the investment is unclear,” he said. “MRC could be planning to set up Rappler as a platform to help promote its future business ventures, including the relaunch of PT&T.”

China Bank Capital Corp. Managing Director Juan Paolo E. Colet said in a Viber message that the announcement led to a spike in trading of MRC stock.

“But that seems more speculative than fundamental at this stage,” he added.

Mr. Colet suggested that investors should wait for Rappler’s latest financial statements to be released to better understand its business performance and future prospects.

“It is important to find out the share swap valuation and terms, and whether the deal is fair to minority shareholders given that this is a related party transaction,” he said.

“While Rappler is a popular news platform, the digital media landscape is competitive and challenging, so we have to see if this investment can generate significant returns for MRC shareholders,” he added.

Following the announcement, MRC shares improved by 28.04% or 30 centavos to P1.37 apiece on Thursday. — R.M. D. Ochave