Gozon: owners OK to sell; other buyers eyeing GMA-7

Katherine Visconti
GMA-7 is an attractive buy and that other groups, aside from businessman Manuel V. Pangilingan, chair of rival TV5 network, have approached to acquire them, says network chair Felipe Gozon

MANILA, Philippines [UPDATED] – Amid talks of a possible deal between the 2nd and 3rd largest media groups in the country, an official of GMA Network Corp. said all major shareholder groups said have agreed to sell GMA-7 if the right price is offered.

He also stressed GMA-7 is an attractive buy and that other groups, aside from rival TV5 chair Manuel V. Pangilingan, have approached to acquire them before.

“We [are on] the same [page]. There is no disagreement among the major stockholders. We have one position,” said GMA Chairman Felipe Gozon at the sidelines of the network’s annual stockholder’s meeting on May 16.

“Even if we are not for sale, at the right price we might be persuaded to sell,” he said.

Three families — Gozon, Duavit and Jimenez — have a 75% controlling stake in GMA-7. The public owns the remaining 25% balance.

The owner of the TV5, Manuel Pangilinan, has denied that he is currently in negotiations to acquire rival GMA7, but had said his “interest continues.” 

“We are not really negotiating with MVP (Pangilinan). He expressed his interest, tagal na, ever since. He did not lose interest. Ever since the first transaction didn’t push through, the interest remained,” Gozon said, confirming Pangilinan’s previous statements about GMA-7.

Pangilinan would only want an acquisition, as opposed to a joint venture, added Gozon.

The GMA-7 boss said an advance offer was made last year but there was a sticking point–the cost. “It’s always the price,” he said.

Gozon has previously joked about a P60 billion deal price. Pangilinan had shrugged this off as an “expensive” deal price.

“I’m just waiting for an offer that will be acceptable, so far we have not received any offer that is acceptable. I am not closing the book,” said Gozon.

Other offers

Last year the group entertained talks from other companies aside from Pangilinan’s.

“(We are) very attractive and desirable, that’s not only to MVP… There were others that expressed interest,” added Gozon.

Gozon added, “There is nothing permanent in this life. Even your children you let them go when they reach the age of maturity.”

Last week, conglomerate San Miguel Corp. CEO Ramon Ang boasted that the owners of GMA-7 are his friends and that they would not sell to the Pangilinan group.

“I’d be willing to bet, nothing will come of that. Idle chatter, nothing more,” Ang said, according to a report of Interaksyon.com.

“Isn’t that owned by the group of Menardo Jimenez? Let me ask you: Who’s closer to the Duavit family? Nards Jimenez? Who’s closer to Henry Gozon?” the San Miguel chief added.

Ang, however, wouldn’t comment if his group would vie to buy GMA-7.

Financial performance

For the future, Gozon said, “We will maintain our lead, increase our international presence and exploit additional business opportunities.”

In the first 3 months of the 2012, the net income of GMA-7 was down over 27% to P388 million from P534 million in the same period in 2011.

The network cited lower revenues from advertising, subscription and other sources. These main revenue streams decreased by 4% quarter-on-quarter.

Industry leader and rival ABS-CBN Corp. reported a paltry 1% net income increase in the first quarter.

Officials of GMA-7 highlighted, however, that the 2nd largest media group was more prudent in spending. For example, they noted that GMA-7 spent only 42-cents in production costs for every P1 of airtime revenue, while ABS-CBN spent 56-cents.  – Rappler.com