ISM mulls follow-on offering this year

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By Arra B. Francia, Reporter

ISM Communications Corp. said it may conduct a follow-on offering within the year depending on market conditions, following the entry of Davao-based businessman Dennis A. Uy’s group that would transform the firm into Udenna Holdings Corp.

“This year is definitely a possibility…. if the market were accepting of issuance, then the probability will be higher,” ISM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Eric O. Recto told reporters after the company’s special shareholders’ meeting in Makati on Thursday.

Shareholders of ISM approved during the meeting the share swap between ISM and Mr. Uy’s Udenna Corp., wherein ISM will issue 24.07 billion shares at P3 each to the shareholders of Udenna, in exchange for a 100% equity interest in the latter.

They also approved the proposal to change the company’s corporate name to Udenna Holdings. It will then serve as Mr. Uy’s holding firm for his businesses in fuel and oil, logistics, real estate, infrastructure, education, and food.

The same meeting saw the approval of ISM’s proposal to increase its authorized capital stock to P75 billion, consisting of 75 billion common shares with a par value of P1 each.

After the share swap, Mr. Recto said the company’s public float would hit around 10%, which is currently the minimum public float for listed firms.

Asked whether they will target to increase the company’s public ownership, Mr. Recto said they are targeting between 15-20%.

“Anywhere from 15 to 20% should be a comfortable public float but that all depends on follow-on, etc. If the market is very buoyant at the time we decide to go out, then we may decide to float it and issue more shares,” Mr. Recto explained, adding that it would still depend on regulators’ approval.

The ISM executive said that the company had been in discussions with other potential partners before finally choosing Udenna, noting that it had “the most exciting set of prospects.”

“I personally have seen the prospects that the various businesses that Udenna Corp. presents, that have been very, very compelling,” Mr. Recto said.

A known ally of the president, Mr. Uy has been on an acquisition spree ever since President Rodrigo R. Duterte assumed his role in 2016. Mr. Uy, who also owns Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc., was able to list his shipping and logistics firm, Chelsea Logistics Corp., in 2017.

He has then gone on to acquire hospitality and culinary school Enderun Colleges, the local unit of convenience store chain FamilyMart, and Conti’s Bakeshop and Restaurant.

Mr. Uy’s latest venture is in the telecom industry, after the Mislatel consortium — Udenna’s partnership with China Telecom — won the spot for the third telco provider in the government’s bidding process late last year.