THE LAND BANK of the Philippines (LANDBANK) hopes to sign deals to acquire a majority stake in the country’s fixed-income exchange by June, with its president saying that current owners have “verbally” agreed to sell their shares to the state-run bank.
“The indicators are very positive that we will get at least 66.67% (stake),” LANDBANK President and Chief Executive Officer Alex V. Buenaventura said on the sidelines of a press briefing last week.
The bank made a second offer to shareholders of the Philippine Dealing System Holdings Corp. (PDS) on April 20, kicking off another 30-day period for them to forge share purchase agreements. This is essentially a reissuance of offer letters sent back in March, with LANDBANK offering to buy PDS shares at P360 apiece.
The offer compares to the P320-per-share offer made by the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), with the latter working on the PDS merger since 2013.
Mr. Buenaventura said that while the state lender has not received the sale agreements in writing, existing PDS shareholders have voiced their intent to avail of LANDBANK’s offer.
“The indications are they (shareholders) are quite supportive of the government program. They verbalized their intent to support the program; most of them are verbally indicating that they will be selling their shares to LANDBANK to support the government program,” Mr. Buenaventura said.
“By the end of May, they should already respond to our offer and by the middle of June, if all of them respond to sell, we hope to pay them up and buy their shares in cash.”
The PDS Group operates trading, clearing and settlement for bonds and foreign exchange through the Philippine Dealing & Exchange Corp., the Philippine Depository & Trust Corp., Philippine Securities Settlement Corp.
Currently, LANDBANK owns 1.56% of PDS through the BAP, which holds a cumulative 13.26% share for itself and its member-banks.
The PSE had actually secured sale agreements covering 69.03% of PDS, but these deals lapsed on March 31.
The PSE has not renewed its offer to current PDS investors as of this writing.
LANDBANK intends to buy 4.167 million common shares worth a total of P1.5 billion, with Mr. Buenaventura describing the PDS as a “potentially profitable investment” for the state bank.
Both LANDBANK and PSE are waiting for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s decision as to who will receive regulatory relief to be exempted from the 20% industry ownership limit of an exchange.
Mr. Buenaventura said only one shareholder agreed to LANDBANK’s proposal during the first offer conducted from March 5 to April 5.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III has said that LANDBANK may set up its own bond exchange if PDS owners continue to snob the purchase offer, as he looks to develop the market to accommodate bond floats by small-scale firms. — Melissa Luz T. Lopez