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Filinvest confident of achieving required float level

Posted on November 18, 2012 10:00:16 PM

GOTIANUN-LED Filinvest Development Corp. will not delist despite having a public ownership level short of the bourse’s 10% minimum, as it plans to pursue private placement of shares to meet that requirement, the company’s top official said in a recent interview.

“No, it is not part of our plans,” Lourdes Josephine G. Yap, Filinvest Development president and chief executive officer, said in an interview after a recent press briefing of Filinvest Land, Inc., Filinvest Development’s property arm, at The Palms Country Club in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, when asked if the conglomerate is plans to delist in light of its deficient public float level.

DEADLINE LOOMS
Filinvest was one of 27 listed firms that had yet to comply with the Philippine Stock Exchange’s (PSE) 10% minimum public ownership rule as of end-June, having a public float level of 3.35%. Listed firms have up to yearend to achieve the minimum public float level or else face penalties leading to forced delisting.

When asked what method Filinvest plans to use to raise its public float, Ms. Yap cited “possible private placement.”

Last December, the holding firm said it was in talks with possible investors for a possible private placement in relation to PSE’s public float requirement, but these plans have yet to materialize.

“We feel that companies that are listed are under pressure to perform well thanks to the rules, and we are actually one of the oldest listed companies now. We have a very long history over the years,” she said when asked to explain why remaining listed was important for her firm.

The company, however, may also ask PSE for an extension of deadline to meet the public float minimum. “I understand [PSE President Hans B.] Sicat announced something on extensions. We have to find out what that discussion is, but definitely we do not want to delist. We are intent on increasing our public float,” Ms. Yap stressed.

Earlier this month, Mr. Sicat reiterated that PSE was open to discussions with firms deficient in public float that need more time to comply with the rule, saying extension of deadline would be on a “case-to-case basis.”

ANOTHER OFFERING PLANNED

After complying with PSE’s public float rule, the company will likely follow up with a second, larger private placement some time next year, Ms. Yap said. “We’ll work towards crossing 10%, but a major one will follow, maybe next year, when those plans are in place,” she said.

Filinvest, incorporated in 1973, is engaged in mall, theater, and resort hotel operations; banking and financial services; sugar farming and milling; as well as power generation, according to information on PSE’s Web site.

A number of firms have voluntarily delisted due to their deficient public float and more are expected to follow suit for the same reason.

Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., investment firm First Metro Investments Corp., and developer Eton Properties Philippines, Inc., have informed PSE of plans to delist between next month and January next year, joining Alaska Milk Corp., PLDT Communication and Energy Ventures, Inc. and Chinatrust Commercial Bank (Philippines), Inc. that had already left the stock exchange earlier this year, due to their decision not to achieve the required public float.

Filinvest shares lost five centavos or 1.1% to P4.50 apiece on Friday last week from P4.55 on Thursday. -- Franz Jonathan G. de la Fuente       
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