MANILA, Philippines – The management of Philippine Airlines (PAL) is downplaying reports quoting its chairman Lucio Tan that the local carrier is for sale.
In a statement on Tuesday, January 24, PAL management said talks of any sale between Tan and prospective buyers are “speculative at best.”
“He (Tan) didn’t say when he wants to sell, how much of his shares he will let go, to whom it will be sold or what the ‘right price’ is. Clearly, it’s not simply about what he said, but what he didn’t say,” said Joey de Guzman, PAL vice president for corporate communications.
“It’s easy for media and other parties to draw conclusions from Mr. Tan’s one-line remark, but we believe that talks of any sale are speculative at best,” he added.
Tan told reporters in a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas function on Friday, Janaury 20, that PAL is for sale “at the right price.”
When asked if there are ongoing talks with the groups of San Miguel Corp president and CEO Ramon Ang and PLDT chairman Manuel V Pangilinan, Tan just said, “Both are my friends.”
PAL management said it has no knowledge of any ongoing discussion. “PAL management is not aware that Mr. Tan is selling any of his shares and what is deemed the ‘right price.’ Normally, a response of this nature cannot be taken on its face value. It could be subject to various interpretations,” said de Guzman.
The local business community has been abuzz with the topic of the sale of PAL, Asia’s first carrier that has been mired in labor and financial problems amid a fiercely competitive industry.
In September, Ang said he was merely giving business and strategy advice to Tan, whom he considers a close friend. Ang had also clarified he was in direct talks with Tan but in a personal capacity and not as president of San Miguel Corp.
PAL is 94% owned by PAL Holdings Inc., led by Tan.
The legacy carrier is expecting a net loss in its fiscal year ending March 2012, a reversal of the $72.5 million profit recorded in FY 2010. – Rappler.com