MANILA, Philippines – Manuel Pangilinan will divest and sell his shares in the Inquirer Group if the offer price is right.
"If there’s an offer to buy our stake at an acceptable price, we are willing to divest," Pangilinan, the chairman of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation and PLDT Incorporated, told Bloomberg TV Philippines.
This was after Ramon Ang disclosed on Monday, July 17 that he is in discussions with the Rufino-Prieto family for a "majority stake" in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Pangilinan's group has interests in broadsheets BusinessWorld Publishing Corporation and PhilStar Daily Incorporated, as well as in broadcast units TV5 Corporation and Bloomberg TV Philippines. (READ: Ramon Ang and his media interests)
Pangilinan, through Excel Pacific Holdings Corporation, owns a 13.08% stake in Philippine Daily Inquirer Incorporated and 25% stake in Inquirer Holdings Incorporated.
The Rufino-Prieto family, meanwhile, owns a 68% stake in Pentap Equities Holdings Corporation, which in turn owns 68.8% of Inquirer Holdings.
Both Ang and Inquirer, however, did not disclose if the San Miguel Corporation chief plans to buy into Philippine Daily Inquirer or the parent firm Inquirer Holdings.
Valuation of the deal has also yet to be determined, as the two parties are still conducting their "due diligence," Ang said in a separate statement.
For Marixi Prieto, chairman of the Inquirer, said selling her family's stake in the Inquirer is a "strategic business decision" as it would add value to "newspaper publication, Internet communications, social media, corporate skills training, radio broadcasting, and logistics delivery." (READ: FAST FACTS: What you should know about the Inquirer Group)
Collapsed talks with GMA
Even before Inquirer, Ang and Pangilinan had long expressed interested in acquiring a stake in GMA Network Incorporated. But both businessmen failed to make a deal with the triumverate shareholders of the broadcast media.
Pangilinan, through PLDT, and GMA were in acquisition talks several times in 2001, 2004, 2012 and 2014. None of these talks pushed through because of pricing and regulatory issues.
In 2014, Ang started talking to GMA chief Felipe Gozon for a majority stake in the network. After 11 months, talks between the two camps collapsed, which caught Ang by suprise.
Ang's pending purchase of the Inquirer comes at a time when he is on the good side of the powers that be. President Rodrigo Duterte described him as his "fast friend."
San Miguel has been among the most generous in supporting Duterte's causes, including rehabilitation centers and housing needs. (READ: San Miguel to donate P1B for drug rehab centers)
The Prietos, on the other hand, have been criticized by Duterte. The President hit the Prietos through their real estate business. He alleged that the Prietos did not pay proper taxes for a property whose ownership is still the subject of a court battle. (READ: Duterte threatens 'exposé' vs Inquirer)
Should the deal breach P1 billion, it will need the approval of the Philippine Competition Commission before the transaction gets implemented. – Rappler.com