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Wenceslao Group, Ongpin tussle over Alphaland Marina Club

Rappler.com
The Wenceslao Group asserts that its joint venture partner, Roberto Ongpin, is selling shares for the project outside the joint venture

ALPHALAND MARINA CLUB. The Wenceslao Group says its partner in the joint venture is selling shares for the project outside of the joint venture. Image from Alphaland brochure

MANILA, Philippines – The group of Roberto V. Ongpin is locked in another dispute.

Ongpin’s Alphaland Corporation is tussling with the Wenceslao family over the 32-hectare Alphaland Marina Club located beside Mall of Asia and Solaire Casino.

This is the latest controversy involving the former trade minister, who is also in a legal battle with London-based private equity fund Ashmore Group over Alphaland. 

A statement from the Wenceslao Group said Alphaland was selling shares in Marina Club through Alphaland Marina Corporation, a company created by Ongpin that is not part of the joint venture company set up to develop the project.

The Wenceslao Group partly owns the joint venture called Alphaland Bay City Corporation (ABCC), contributing 22 hectares to the project. Ongpin, through Alphaland Development Inc. (ADI), contributed 10 hectares.

“In effect, Ongpin’s selling company, Alphaland Marina, gets all the revenues and none will be remitted to the joint venture company, the owner of the marina rights,” the Wenceslao Group said.

Group participation ‘voided’

The Wenceslao Group added that without its knowledge, ADI nearly succeeded mortgaging the 10 hectares it gave as equity to the joint venture for P3 billion.

The group said the mortgage had already been annotated on the titles and the bank was ready to release the funds, which would be used to finance projects of Ongpin’s other companies. When the bank found out about the joint venture, it required Ongpin to ask the Wenceslao Group to sign off on the loan. The Wenceslao Group said it refused since the loan would benefit only Ongpin.

Due to the refusal, Ongpin, through a letter written by Alphaland president Mario Oreta dated February 2013, unilaterally voided the Wenceslao Group’s participation in the Marina project, according to the latter.

Ongpin wrote the buyers of his Marina shares, saying he is changing the concept of the marina project, with the major selling point of the existing plan – a marina clubhouse on the water– abandoned as being “not feasible.”

The Marina project will now be built with the 10-hectare portion of Ongpin’s land, but will not have access to the sea. The promenade in front has been pledged in favor of and has already been conveyed to the Wenceslao Group.

Ongpin’s plan calls for the site to open in 2014. He also allowed his Marina shareholders to use Alphaland’s CityClub, allowing non-members to use the same facilities as members who paid for shares in CityClub.

The Wenceslao Group added, “We are coming out because of Mr. Ongpin’s very malicious statements to his Marina Club shareholders against our company. We are now studying our legal options against Mr. Ongpin.”

‘Half-truth and lies’

Alphaland lawyer Rodolfo Ponferrada claimed the Wenceslao Group’s statement was “full of half-truths and lies.”

He maintained that Alphaland owns 100% of the club and that there are contempt proceedings before the Makati Regional Trial Court against the Wenceslao family for attempting to stop the project.

“Alphaland agreed to make the Wenceslao Group a 50-50 partner. But when in early 2013 the Wenceslao Group torpedoed a loan application of Alphaland, the offer… was withdrawn,” he said in a statement.

Ponferrada also said the Wenceslao Group has been unable to deliver the required 4 hectares to complete the 32-hectare project.

Ongpin’s group is also in a dispute with London-based private equity fund Ashmore over Alphaland, which Ongpin took control of after Ashmore failed to comply with a capital call. 

Alphaland filed a complaint against Ashmore executives for allegedly simulating a sale of Alphaland shares to comply with public ownership rules. Ashmore denied the claims of Ongpin’s group. (READ: Ongpin group sues Ashmore execs over ‘simulated’ share sale) – Rappler.com

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