Ramon Ang in talks with Prietos for majority stake in Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Ramon Ang, the chief of the country's most diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation, is in talks with the owners of the Philippine Daily Inquirer for an acquisition of a majority stake in the daily newspaper.

"Yes, personal [investment]. [We are] in talks," Ang told Rappler in a mobile phone reply.

Marixi Prieto, chairperson of the Inquirer Group of Companies, said in a statement on Monday, July 17, that they resumed discussions with their "longstanding friend and business partner" Ang for the sale of the Prieto family's interest and majority share in the Inquirer Group.

The Inquirer said the Prieto family's decision to divest after 25 years is a strategic business decision that they believe will maximize growth opportunities for the media outfit.

Established 31 years ago, in December 1985, the Inquirer was born a few months before the EDSA People Power Revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship – as it pushed ahead with its critical coverage of the dying days of the Marcos regime.

The Inquirer has since tried to fight attempts to make it less critical of the establishment. In 1998, supporters of then president Joseph Estrada led an advertising boycott against the newspaper. The Inquirer survived that crisis, and Estrada was eventually ousted in 2001. (READ: The courage of Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc)

Ang said in a separate statement that he has accepted the offer of the Prieto family to invest in the Inquirer Group.

"I am looking forward to be part of this venerable institution and work with the men and women who made it what it is now. The publication will continue to uphold the highest journalistic standards and make a difference in the society it serve," he added.

In its statement on Monday, the Inquirer said: "The family is confident that Mr Ang will uphold the Inquirer Group's commitment to pursuing highest standards of journalism."

Inquirer said the business tycoon's investments and business expertise will add value to its "newspaper publication, Internet communications, social media, corporate skills training, radio broadcasting, and logistics delivery."

All existing employment contracts of the Inquirer Group will remain in effect, Inquirer said in the statement.

Aside from Ang, Excel Pacific Holding Corporation of Manuel Pangilinan holds 13.08% stake in Philippine Daily Inquirer Incorporated and 25% in Inquirer Holdings Incorporated.

Ang had previously offered to buy at least 30% of GMA Network Incorporated from majority stockholders at a premium of P10.80 ($0.24) per share. Some stock analysts speculated that the broadcast network might want more than what Ang had offered.

Ang is the president and chief operating officer of San Miguel – a conglomerate that has ventured from food and beverage into other industries like telecommunications, energy, petroleum, and commercial aviation.

Ang also owns Eagle Cement Corporation, the 4th largest cement producer in the Philippines.

Shares of San Miguel on Monday, July 17 were up by 40 centavos to P102.90 each. – Rappler.com