By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-Editor

AC ENERGY, Inc. targets to launch in the next two months the mandatory tender offer to the minority shareholders of Phinma Energy Corp. to complete its acquisition of the company, its top official said.

Siguro (Maybe) we’ll target second quarter, ’yung (the) tender offer,” Eric T. Francia, AC Energy president and chief executive officer, told reporters, adding that the next step would be to talk to the minority shareholders.

“We’re finalizing the pricing. We don’t know yet [if it’s going to be lower than the previously agreed price] because there’s a pricing adjustment formula we’ll need to apply based on the facts. So we’re still waiting for the pertinent data before we can finalize,” he added.

On Jan. 9, AC Energy announced that it had signed a “mutually strategic agreement” with Phinma Energy that gives the Ayala-led company a 51.48% stake in the listed firm for P3.42 billion. The price was based on the agreed valuation date of Dec. 31, 2018 and subject to adjustments.

On April 15, AC Energy said it had received approval from the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) for its acquisition of Phinma, Inc.’s and Phinma Corp.’s combined 51.48% stake in Phinma Energy.

As part of the sale, AC Energy will subscribe to around P2.632 billion worth of primary shares of Phinma Energy at par value, which will result in a total stake for the Ayala group of around 68%, subject to the conduct of a tender offer for the shares of Phinma Energy’s minority shareholders.

“We haven’t launched it yet, but we’ll probably launch it soon. So that’s one of the next steps — to launch the tender,” Mr. Francia said. “The minority shareholders can sell to us at the same price.”

He said AC Energy would prefer to keep Phinma Energy listed at the stock exchange.

“That’s our intent [to keep Phinma Energy as a listed entity]. But if everyone tenders then we’ll be forced to keep it private or unlisted. So it really depends,” he said.

The choice to keep Phinma Energy listed is to give it flexibility, he added.

“That’s our preference — the flexibility. If we need the growth capital because of course we want to enhance, improve the performance. It’s been reported that it incurred negative income in 2018 so there’s work to be done,” Mr. Francia said.

“We want to keep the option flexible by having it listed. It’s easier to raise capital if you needed to. And of course, over time we’d like to grow that platform,” he said.