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Eton mulls options on minimum 10% public float

By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) Updated July 30, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Eton Properties Phils. Inc. is studying a number of options, which include delisting its shares from the Philippine Stock Exchange, in light of the standing rule for listed firms to maintain a public float of at least 10 percent.

Non-compliant companies have until December this year to meet the 10 percent minimum public ownership requirement for continued listing on the stock exchange.

Eton, the local property unit of tycoon Lucio Tan, has a public ownership level of 5.6 percent, falling short of the required level.

“We are considering doing a follow-on offering or delisting from the exchange. We’re studying all options available,” said Michael Tan, president of Eton.

Companies that fail to comply with the minimum public float requirement by Dec. 31, 2012 will be suspended by the PSE for up to six months beginning the first trading day next year.

Once trading is suspended, any transaction on stock trades will no longer enjoy the preferential tax rate of 0.5 percent. The Bureau of Internal Revenue will instead slap the five- to 10-percent capital gains tax on stock trades.

Aside from this, companies must still pay listing fees while they are suspended.

After the lapse of the suspension period, they will automatically be delisted from the local bourse, unless they have by then complied with the requirement.

Trading in shares of Eton is currently suspended due to the company’s failure to submit its annual report for 2011 in violation of the PSE’s revised disclosure rules. The suspension took effect in May.

Corporations that fail to comply with the PSE’s reportorial requirements shall automatically be suspended up to a maximum of three months. Beyond the three-month period, they get stricken off the roster of listed companies.

In previous briefings, Eton said it was targeting to exceed the P288 million net profit it reported in 2010. In the nine months ending September last year, Eton posted a net income of P600.6 million or an increase of 13.21 percent from P530.55 million the previous level.

The company remains bullish on the property sector with around nine projects lined up for development this year – four buildings catering to the business process outsourcing sector, a commercial center in Eton City, a large township and Tower 2 of its first soho (small office, home office) project.

The Eton group, which has launched a total of 43 projects in its four years of operations, operates three major brands — Eton for the high-end segment, Belton for the middle-income segment and First Homes for the broad affordable market.

Eton is focusing on the development of its two major township projects: Eton City in Sta. Rosa, Laguna and Eton Centris at the corner of EDSA and Quezon Ave.
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