THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has ordered the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) to complete the listing process for a $1-billion initial public offering (IPO) within six months.

The order, issued in March, was posted this week on the commission’s website.

The NGCP had asked ERC to waive the deadline to list, citing the “unsuitability of current market conditions for IPOs” due to the public health emergency.

In an order dated March 10, the ERC said NGCP had 10 years to prepare its IPO, and that the transmission service provider cannot “invoke the current emergency health situation” to delay compliance.

“The Commission… hereby requires NGCP to complete within the period of six months from date of receipt of this order its IPO requirement and ultimately make a public offering of its shares in compliance with… R.A. No. 9511 (or the act granting a franchise to the NGCP),” the ERC said.

The commission said the company failed to establish that the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is unsuitable for IPOs. It said various companies like grocery retailer MerryMart Consumer Corp. and internet service provider Converge Information and Communications Technology Solutions, Inc. undertook public offerings at the height of the pandemic and community quarantine, which were well received by the public.

The ERC added that the NGCP has begun complying with its IPO requirements, and “only needs to complete the process.”

According to the regulator, the NGCP has engaged financial advisers, shortlisted joint global coordinators, reviewed proposals of underwriters and is in the process of finalizing its engagement of legal counsel.

The NGCP has tapped Standard Chartered Bank (Philippine Branch), and BDO Capital and Investment Corp. as its international and domestic financial advisors for the listing, the ERC said.

Citing BDO Capital President Eduardo V. Francisco, the ERC estimated the value of the shares to be listed will be about $1 billion. Mr. Francisco was the expert witness tapped by the NGCP to support its claims for an IPO extension.

In its order, the commission said the NGCP must submit a monthly progress report on its public listing activities on or before the fifth day of every month of the six-month compliance period.

The ERC’s order was signed by Chairperson Agnes VST Devanadera and three commissioners.

Under its franchise, the NGCP is required to list at least 20% of its outstanding shares on the bourse.

In January, the NGCP said it is pressing forward with preparations for the IPO even though “market conditions may not be ideal at the moment.”

NGCP Spokesperson Cynthia P. Alabanza has said that the company has been gearing up for a public listing since 2014 in compliance with the conditions of its franchise. — Angelica Y. Yang