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SM keeps Ortigas bid alive

By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) Updated July 13, 2012 12:00 AM

Manila, Philippines - The giant conglomerate headed by the country’s richest man says its offer for the 34 percent stake held by British banking giant HSBC in the holding company that owns the 16-hectare Greenhills shopping complex is still on the table despite a strategic alliance entered into by some members of the Ortigas family with Ayala Land Inc. (ALI).

On the sidelines of the signing of a three-year branding partnership between PLDT and SM’s newly established events venue Mall of Asia, SM Investments Corp. (SMIC) director Hans Sy said: “The offer still stays. We’re waiting for formal discussions. We have placed an offer which they have acknowledged. The offer is for the whole 34 percent stake held by HSBC.”

The Ortigas family exercised its right of first refusal over HSBC’s stake in OCLP Holdings Inc. in a deal valued at P11 billion. A group led by Ignacio R. Ortigas entered into a partnership with ALI to participate in the development of various properties owned by the landed Ortigas family, which include large residential, office, retail and hotel components.

ALI earlier said it had the backing of majority of the Ortigas family members, which should give it a foothold in Ortigas. It believes that its strategic partnership would gain overall management control of the private holding firm.

Sy said that while they are still waiting for the Ortigas family’s reply, they prefer to have control of the company but can “ adjust depending on the outcome of negotiations.”

ALI and SMIC, however, have yet to wait for the expiration of the lock-up period imposed on buyers for HSBC’s stake before they could own a stake in Ortigas & Co.

The Sy family was the first to make a pitch for HSBC’s stake in the Ortigas-led holding firm but the Ortigas family members eventually decided to buy out HSBC’s stake. In April, the Sy family said it was close to acquiring a controlling stake in OCLP Holdings, which would allow the SM group to capture the biggest share of the retail market in the burgeoning Ortigas-Pasig-Mandaluyong area.

The Ortigases, whose historic roots date back to the 300-year Spanish colonial rule, are among the largest landowners in the country. They developed upscale residential subdivisions Valle Verde and Wack-Wack as well as the 77-unit Luntala townhouse project within Valle Verde 6.

Aside from the Greenhills shopping center, the group’s retail portfolio also includes the 18-hectare Tiendesitas in Pasig, residential development located on a 12-hectare property in Calle Industria in Bagumbayan in Quezon City, and the P25-billion Capitol Commons, which will rise on a 10-hectare property, which was previously occupied by the Rizal Provincial Capitol.
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