National Book Store’s Ramos group may sell MRT-3 stake
The Ramos family, which owns retail giant National Book Store, is open to selling its stake in the company that controls MRT-3, a rail system in capital Manila

FULL CONTROL. The government eyes the completion of its takeover of MRT-3 from Metro Rail Transit Corp at the end of the year. File photo by AFP

MANILA, Philippines – The Ramos family, which owns retail giant National Book Store, is open to selling its stake in the company that controls MRT-3, a rail system in capital Manila.

Listed firm Anglo Philippine Holdings Corporation confirmed this through a stock exchange disclosure on Tuesday, October 29, following reports that it is willing to “sell at the right price.”

The Aquino government is moving to unwind the complicated financial and ownership structure behind MRT Corp., the MRT-3 operator, packaged about a decade ago. This is part of government efforts to privatize and bid out the congested rail system to a business group that would rehabilitate and modernize the rail services.

“Anglo Holdings still has its residual ownership in the holding firm company that owns the operating company,” Philippine Star quoted Anglo Holdings director Adrian Ramos as saying.

Anglo Holdings has an 18.6% stake in the MRT Holdings Inc. consortium, which in turn owns MRT Holdings II. The latter controls MRT Corp.

Aside from Anglo Holdings, the other stockholders of MRT Holdings include Sobrepeña-led Fil-Estate Corp., Railco Investments Inc., Sheridan LRT Holdings Inc. and DBH Inc.

The national government now owns about 80% economic interest in MRT Corp. but without voting rights. Part of the unwinding of the financial package behind MRT-3 involves the national government’s purchase of the MRT bonds now held by state banks Landbank and Development Bank of the Philippines.

The government plans to retire the MRT bonds and buyout the existing owners of the different private companies that have a stake in MRT Corp.

Star quoted Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima as saying that the 20% economic interest in MRT Corp is worth about $200 million.

President Benigno Aquino III issued Executive Order 126 in early 2013, directing the Transportation Department and the Department of Finance (DOF) to acquire MRT-3 from Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC) to save on rental payments, maintenance costs, debt payments, insurance expenses, and other costs.

With the government taking full control of the railway system, it will no longer have to pay MRTC huge fees every year. It paid MRTC P7.87 billion in 2010.

The takeover will also allow the government to bid out the operation and management of the railway.

Part of Anglo Philippines’ long term goal is to depend on oil production and property business for majority of its income, the company told the exchange.

Anglo Philippines is headed by Alfredo Ramos, son of Socorro Ramos, the founder of National Book Store, the country’s largest books and office supplies chain. –

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