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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs         30  June 2011

Court ruling on foreign ownership hits Philippines

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Philippines Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) on Wednesday warned that the recent ruling of the Supreme Court on foreign ownership may lead to a "dramatic" drop in its share price.

"It's extremely disappointing personally for me as a Filipino.

. . It would have a negative and adverse impact on the financial markets here and abroad . . . Our share prices dropped by P75 today. Last night, when we were tracking our PDRs share price was down by $1.52," Manuel Pangilinan, PLDT chairman, told reporters.

Pangilinan was reacting to the SC ruling directing the Securities and Exchange Commission to determine if PLDT violated the constitutional provision that limits foreign ownership of public utilities to 40 percent.

The High Tribunal granted the petition filed by Wilson Gamboa, a human-rights lawyer, seeking to annul the sale of the government-acquired 111,415 PLDT shares held by Philippine Telecommunications Investment Corpo. to Hong

Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd. The sale was priced at P25.2 billion. First Pacific is one of the key shareholders of PLDT.

Pangilinan said the court order is not good for PLDT, adding that other companies are in a similar structure as PLDT, and in due time would suffer the same fate as it.

"The common and preferred stocks of PLDT is something that we inherited in 1998. So, PLDT lived with this common and preferred capital structure for many, many years," he said. He said the Supreme Court order is a "game-changing rule."

"There's so many years, we live with this kind of structure. It's not good from a foreign investor perspective to be changing rules that are important," Pangilinan said.

As of last count, 64 percent of PLDT's common shares is held by foreigners, while the remaining 34 percent is owned by Filipinos.

Including preferred shares, Filipinos own 87 percent while foreigners, the remaining 13 percent. "How you will bring it to 40 percent? Twenty-four percent of the shares must be divested. Who will buy these shares? Are there enough funds from the local investors? It's going to go down dramatically," Pangilinan said.

"I don't understand why we are committing economic suicide," he added.


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This year in Thailand-what next?

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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