Lopez Holdings aims to be debt-free by end-2012

Katherine Visconti
After reaching a high of $560 million in unstructured debt in 2002, the Lopez family's holding company hopes to be debt-free by yearend

MESSAGE TO STOCKHOLDERS. For the 2nd year in a row stockholders in Lopez Holdings Corporation received a dividend with the company well on its way to erasing its debt.

MANILA, Philippines – Becoming debt-free by yearend is the goal of the Lopez family’s flagship holding company, Lopez Holdings Corp.

Lopez Holdings has already restructured US$23 million of its $25 million debts, said the company’s assistant vice president Milani Caimol on the sidelines of their annual stockholders’ meeting on Friday, June 1. 

The company is buying back its remaining P78 million unstructured debt from creditors at 100% of face value, added Caimol.

Lopez Holdings, whose core investments are energy firm First Gen Corp and media company ABS-CBN Corp, saw its debts balloon during the late 1990s and early 2000s because these were largely dollar-denominated and therefore more exposed during the Asian Financial Crisis. 

By 2002, the company’s unrestricted debts totaled $560 million or 112xs the unstructured debt level today. “From where it came from, it’s really insignificant, we’re practically debt free,” said Caimol.

But last year the company bought back P778.6 million in long-term commercial papers and $16.4 in euro bonds.

Finally in 2011, the conglomerate was able to declare its first cash dividend in history since becoming public in 1993. Its last dividend was paid in stocks in 1995.

“Earlier this month, the board approved our 2nd cash dividend at P0.10 per share to be paid on or before June 15. The challenge now of your board and management team is ensuring that shareholder return is done on a consistent and regular basis,” said Lopez Holdings chairman, Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel Lopez. – Rappler.com

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