ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Phillippines shipping business goes to Chinese firm
In a briefing, Erramon Aboitiz, Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV) president, said its board of directors and controlling shareholder Aboitiz & Co. Inc. (ACO) approved the sale of their combined 93.2-percent interest in Aboitiz Transport System Corp. (ATS) for US$105 million or P4.6 billion to Negros Navigation Co. (Nenaco).
The proceeds after taxes and related costs will be distributed to existing ATS shareholders by means of a special cash dividend of P0.15 per share to all stockholders of record as of December 15, 2010 to be paid on January 12, 2011.
AEV owns 77.24 percent of ATS, while ACO, the private holding company of the Aboitiz family, owns another 15.96 percent. The public holds the remaining 6.8 percent of the shipping firm.
"The divestment of ATS was a very difficult decision to make considering the Aboitiz Group has been in the transport business for over 100 years," Aboitiz said.
"The board of directors, however, felt the Nenaco offer was reasonable and representative of ATS' value," he added.
In the first nine months, ATS posted a net loss of P480.4 million, a reversal of last year's net income of P428.8 million.
At the current price, the purchase is equivalent to P1.892 for each ATS share, or lower than Nenaco's previous offer of P2.044 a share.
Last year, Nenaco withdrew its original offer to buy ATS amid the global financial turmoil.
Under Philippine law, Nenaco will have to make a tender offer for the remaining 6.8 percent of ATS held by the public.
Excluded from the transaction are the joint venture companies of ATS with the Jebsen Group of Norway.
Prior to the closing of the transaction, AEV will acquire ATS' interest in Aboitiz Jebsen Bulk Transport Corp., Aboitiz Jebsen Manpower Solutions Inc. and Jebsen Maritime Inc. for P 355.91 million.
The ATS board also approved the sale of its 50-percent interest in Jebsen Maritime (BVI) Limited, a chartering company, to ACO for P 44 million.
In a separate statement, Nenaco said the purchase of the ATS shares would be funded by an equity infusion by China-Asean Marine B.V., a wholly owned subsidiary of the China-Asean Investment Cooperation Fund.
China-Asean Investment Cooperation Fund is a Netherlands-based private equity fund put up by state-owned China Export-Import Bank.
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