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ALI to aid Negros gov’t in court case vs SM Prime

Posted on July 26, 2011 09:57:33 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]
BACOLOD CITY -- Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) has offered legal assistance to the local government in Negros Occidental ahead of court questioning on why the developer was deemed the winner of a land bidding despite protests from SM Prime Holdings, Inc., a state official said.

The province’s governor, Alfredo G. Marañon, Jr., said Ayala Land committed to help in building the defense case after SM Prime obtained a temporary restraining order from the Court of Appeals to stop the P3.5-billion transaction involving 7.7 hectares of state-owned property here.

“It’s their case now,” the governor said after meeting with Ayala Land Vice-President Jose Emmanuel H. Jalandoni at the provincial capitol on Sunday.

The meeting came after Ayala Land issued a statement on Friday that it was confident the courts will sustain the provincial government’s decision to award the contracts to develop the property to them. The property giant reiterated it submitted a bid “in good faith and in compliance with the requirements of law and procedure.”

Ayala Land spokesperson Jorge Miguel T. Marcó confirmed this in an e-mail to BusinessWorld yesterday: “While we are not a party to the case, it is in the public interest and for the common good that the provincial government gets all the help that it can from all concerned in resolving the issue and proving that the bidding process was completely transparent and aboveboard.”

The deed of conditional sale for the 3.65-hectare land worth P750.033 million and contract for lease for the 4.048-hectare property worth P2.755 billion were approved by the Provincial Board last week.

But the Court of Appeals 20th Division in Cebu City issued a temporary restraining order preventing the deal’s implementation shortly after.

SM Prime said it had offered a “far more superior” bid for the property than what Ayala Land had submitted at a tender held on July 7.

The tender, however, was declared a failure after both firms purportedly submitted bids lower than the property’s appraised value, SM Prime said. It said the awards committee disclosed the appraised value, which served as the floor price, the day after.

The governor refused to discuss what legal action the provincial government will take against SM Prime, saying only “it’s an option.”

Although the usual procedure would be to file a motion for reconsideration, he added.

The property for sale is situated behind the Provincial Capitol building on Gatuslao St. while those for lease are the lots near the Philippine National Bank and the National Food Authority buildings. -- NLG

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