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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The majority shareholders of GMA Network Incorporated clarified on Friday, June 26, that they were “constrained” to end negotiations with Ramon Ang, as he kept on revising proposals up to the last minute, claims which the businessman denied.
Angela Javier Cruz, GMA Network Vice President for Corporate Communications, issued the clarification on Friday after GMA announced on June 23 the decision to terminate talks with Ang on the planned minority acquisition of the network – a development that caught Ang by surprise.
In correcting the “misimpression that may have been created that they abruptly terminated the negotiations,” Cruz said the GMA majority shareholders were “constrained to terminate the negotiations” only after:
(a) more than one (1) year of negotiations,
(b) they had accepted on March 21, 2015, all the remaining proposals of Ang as of February 27, 2015,
(c) Ang continued to make new/additional proposals and/or make new requirements after the sellers had already accepted all of the proposals of Ang on March 21, 2015, and
(d) after the statements of Gozon during the company’s financial briefing on May 14, 2015 were widely published in the broadsheets that “the ball is now in Ang’s court,” that there was no deadline given but decision should be made within a “reasonable time.”
Ang: GMA’s explanation ‘not true’
Just a few hours after GMA’s clarification, Ang told reporters in a text message that the broadcast giant’s explanations were “not true.”
“That’s not true. As late as May 9, GMA was still sending revised drafts of transaction documents,” he said.
Ang said that the network was the one that kept on sending revised drafts on the deal.
“On June 22 at 5 pm, GMA sent another letter stating their own views on the unresolved matters without saying that they would no longer proceed with the transaction. Then first thing the following day, GMA disclosed to the PSE (Philippine Stock Exchange) that they are terminating. If that is not abrupt I do not know what is,” Ang said.
On June 23, GMA Vice President Ayahi Ari Augusto Chio informed PSE that talks between Ang and the Jimenez, Gozon, and Duavit families, for the purchase of at least a 30% interest in GMA, had bogged down.
“The company has been informed by its majority shareholders (Jimenez Group, Gozon Group, and Duavit Group) that the negotiation with Mr Ang on the sale and purchase of a participating minority equity interest in the company’s outstanding capital stock is now deemed terminated,” Chio said in the disclosure. (READ: GMA-Ramon Ang talks collapse)
As early as June 2014, Ang announced that the planned acquisition of a 30% stake in GMA was a done deal. The shareholders of GMA and Ang were looking at signing the purchase agreement as early November 2014.
On March 21, 2015, GMA accepted all the remaining proposals of Ang as of February 27, 2015, yet the businessman continued to make changes, as stated by Cruz in her statement.
During GMA’s company financial briefing on May 14, 2015, GMA Network, Incorporated president and chief operating officer Felipe Gozon told reporters that he was “no longer sure” if Ang would still buy a minority stake in his network.
“I have to be very truthful to you. The talk was some time 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 the company briefing.
But when asked to comment on Gozon’s statement, Ang said in a text message, “Yes, [we’re] still in talks.” (READ: Is Ramon Ang buying GMA? Network chief now uncertain)
Gozon earlier explained that the majority shareholders of GMA have already presented their “cards on the table,” and it was now “up to Ang” to decide. The GMA statement on Friday noted that while Ang was not given a deadline, it was expected within a “reasonable time.”
Reacting to GMA’s June 23 disclosure that it is already terminating the talks, Ang, the president and chief operating officer of San Miguel Corporation, admitted he was caught flat-footed by the decision. “There was no indication they would do this in the middle of negotiations.”
Analysts were also surprised, many of them saying that the network must be asking for a higher price. (READ: Why GMA-Ramon Ang talks collapsed)
This was the fifth time that the broadcast giant terminated acquisition talks with a possible investor.
On June 24, Ayala-led Globe Telecom Incorporated said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) that the telecommunications provider is open to discussing other forms of partnership with GMA.
“As part of Globe’s normal business operations, the company is open to discuss other potential forms of business collaboration with various parties, including GMA,” Globe investor relations director Jose Mari Fajardo said.
Globe was among the many suitors that courted the majority shareholders of GMA. (READ: Globe to court GMA again?)
Another perennial suitor was dominant carrier Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), chaired by Manuel V. Pangilinan that has interests in broadcast media through TV5 and Interaksyon.com, as well as print media through BusinessWorld, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Philippine Star. – with a report from Chrisee Dela Paz/Rappler.com