power and water

Zobels, Ayala execs out as Manila Water officers after Razon takeover

Ralf Rivas

DEAL. Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Enrique Razon Jr. after a business meeting in February 2020.

Manila Water

Enrique Razon Jr.'s team steps in to manage Manila Water over a year after the deal was announced

Fernando and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and other officials are formally out of Manila Water’s management and board, as the company completed its subscription agreement with Enrique Razon Jr.’s Prime Strategic Holdings, giving the latter control of the utility company.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Friday, June 4, it was announced that Razon was made director, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and chairman and member of the executive committee of Manila Water.

The other new officers and board directors are:

  • Donato Almeda – chief regulatory officer
  • Christian Gonzales – director
  • Rafael Consing – director
  • Eric Ramon Recto – operations committee member
  • Roberto Locsin – chief administrative officer
  • Melvin John Tan – chief operating officer for non-East Zone and international businesses
  • Silverio Benny Tan – corporate secretary

Abelardo Basilio remains in Manila Water as chief operating officer for the East Zone concession area. Sherisa Nuesa, former executive committee member, is still a board member.

Former Manila Water executives include Jose Rene Almendras (president and CEO), Antonio Aquino (executive committee member), Gerardo Albaza Jr. (director), John Eric Francia (director), Virgilio Rivera (COO for new business operations), and Solomon Hermosura (corporate secretary).

Fernando Zobel stepped down as chairman but remains as board director. Almendras is non-executive director.

Ayala Corporation, together with its wholly owned subsidiaries Philwater Holdings Company and AC Energy and Infrastructure Corporation, and Razon’s Trident Water Company Holdings, earlier executed a shareholders’ agreement for Razon’s subscription of Manila Water’s common shares worth at least P10.7 billion.

Philwater also executed and delivered a proxy in favor of Trident Water for Philwater’s 2.69 billion preferred shares in Manila Water. 

As a result of the subscription by Trident Water and its appointment as proxy of Philwater over the preferred shares, Trident Water’s economic and voting stakes in Manila Water are 25% and 51%, respectively.

Ayala’s direct and indirect economic interest in Manila Water is now 38.6% and its voting interest is now 31.6%.

In a nutshell, Ayala maintains economic interest in Manila Water, but Razon will be running operations.

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In 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to cancel Manila Water’s concession agreement. It was also the time when Manila Water won an arbitration case against the government worth P7.4 billion.

Manila Water initially wanted middle ground for the arbitration, but eventually gave up going after the amount amid Duterte’s outbursts.

Manila Water now has a new concession agreement, taking out the so-called onerous provisions like the non-interference clause, as well as adjusting the rate-setting provisions. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.