Is Ramon Ang buying GMA? Network chief now uncertain

Chrisee Dela Paz
Is Ramon Ang buying GMA? Network chief now uncertain
GMA chief Felipe Gozon says the network's majority shareholders have already presented their 'cards on the table.' It's now up to Ang, he adds.

MANILA, Philippines – GMA Network, Incorporated President and Chief Operating Officer Felipe Gozon told reporters on Thursday, May 14, that he was “no longer sure” if businessman Ramon S. Ang would still buy a minority stake in his network.

“I have to be very truthful to you. The talk was sometime ago, so if I say that we’re still close [to signing a deal], nobody will believe me so I won’t say it. At this point, let me just say that our attitude is wait and see. The ball is no longer in our court,” he said on the sidelines of a company briefing.

Asked to comment on Gozon’s statement, Ang said in a text message: “Yes, [we’re] still in talks.”

It’s been earlier announced that Ang, president and chief operating officer of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), planned to buy a minority stake in the broadcast giant.

Asked if he’s now open to taking offers from other suitors, Gozon replied: “Since I’m no longer sure, it depends on the suitor whether they would like to court us or not.”

For Ang’s offer, Gozon said, “there is no fixed deadline, but it should be done within a reasonable period which is not defined.”

Gozon explained that the majority shareholders of GMA have already presented their “cards on the table,” and it was now “up to Ang” to decide.

Wait and see

The chief of GMA could not be blamed, as it has been 11 months since the network’s board of directors disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) that they were close to signing an agreement with Ang on the planned sale of a minority stake in GMA.

Although details of the planned acquisition are not disclosed, an unverified news report in January claimed Ang offered to buy at least 30% of GMA from majority stockholders at a premium of P10.80 ($0.242) per share.

When asked in June 2014 if the stake was still 30% as stated by the earlier report, Ang replied in a text message: “Yes, done deal,” but would not elaborate on price, timetable for the sale or if he was interested in eventually taking a majority stake.

The shareholders of GMA and Ang were looking at signing the purchase agreement as early November last year, but this did not push through.

Ang and Gozon confirmed in May last year that talks were ongoing for a possible acquisition of a stake in GMA.

Shareholders of GMA entered into talks with Ang after negotiations with dominant telecom company Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) chaired by Manuel V. Pangilinan bogged down anew.

Gozon explained that shareholders are open to entertaining offers from other potential buyers.

“From the very beginning, even before we’re not selling our share. There are many buyers who were willing to buy, so we are entertaining their offers,” Gozon told reporters.

Apart from entertaining other potential buyers, he said shareholders of GMA are open to reviving talks with the Pangilinan group.

“Anything is possible,” he said.

Growth in the first quarter

During the first quarter of the year, the net income of GMA jumped 25% to P408 million ($9.15 million), from P326 million ($7.31 million) in the same period last year, as revenues went up 5% to P3.01 billion ($67.50 million) from P2.85 billion ($63.91 million).

Gozon said the company is looking at “revising upwards” its profit targets for the year after booking better-than-expected earnings in the first quarter of the year.

“Our performance in the first quarter is a good indication that 2015 will be a much better year for our company,” he said. – Rappler.com

$1 = P44.59

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