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Jacinto wants compromise with PNB over Buendia lot

Vol. XXII, No. 187 [ BusinessWorld Online ]

Monday, April 27, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES


BUSINESSMAN RAMON "RJ" P. Jacinto has moved to hammer out an amicable settlement of the case between him and the Philippine National Bank (PNB) involving a prime lot in Makati, offering to buy the bank’s stake in the property.

In a letter to PNB President Omar Byron T. Mier dated April 24, Mr. Jacinto offered to purchase 80% of the bank’s stake in the 8,000-square-meter property on Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue (formerly Buendia).

This was despite a Court of Appeals ruling affirmed by the Supreme Court recently, which ordered the Lucio C. Tan-led bank to return the lot to Mr. Jacinto.

"An amicable settlement wherein we buy out PNB will clear up and resolve the pending legal issues surrounding the property," Mr. Jacinto said in a statement.

Mr. Jacinto said he was willing to open up negotiations based on a rate of P200,000 per square meter, the price for which PNB wanted to sell the lot.

The rift between Mr. Jacinto and the bank stemmed from a loan involving the Makati property.

RJ Ventures Realty & Development Corp., the property firm owned by Mr. Jacinto, won a bidding for the Makati property in 1996 for $140 million.

Payment for the property was to be financed by a 20% downpayment, while the remaining 80% was to be paid through a loan from PNB.

But financial woes as a result of the Asian crisis a decade ago resulted in a loan restructuring, with the debt converted to pesos from dollars.

However, Mr. Jacinto claimed that the PNB — then owned by the government — had failed to fulfill stipulations in the deal, adding he was "maltreated" during the presidency of Joseph E. Estrada. This led to the foreclosure, he said.

"The simplest approach is for PNB to return [our money] and we return the land. But if that’s not acceptable and to end this once and for all, the RJ Group, together with the backing of an investment group, is offering to buy out PNB’s stake," Mr. Jacinto said.

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