Home Top News Leviste boosts ABS-CBN stake to 10%

Leviste boosts ABS-CBN stake to 10%

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By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter

BUSINESSMAN Leandro Antonio L. Leviste, founder of Solar Philippines Power Project Holdings, Inc., has increased his stake in ABS-CBN Corp. to 10% from the previous 8.5%, bringing him closer to securing a seat on the board of the listed media company.

Mr. Leviste now owns 90 million ABS-CBN shares, equivalent to a 10% beneficial ownership, ABS-CBN said in a stock exchange disclosure dated June 4.

These consist of 87.66 million ABS-CBN Corp. shares and 1.718 million ABS-CBN Holdings Corp. shares, owned by Leviste-led LL Holdings, Inc. and its parent company Countryside Investments Holdings Corp.

In May, Mr. Leviste announced his acquisition of an 8.5% stake in ABS-CBN, making him the second largest ABS-CBN shareholder after Lopez, Inc.

Mr. Leviste is the son of Senator Loren Regina “Loren” B. Legarda, a former ABS-CBN producer and news anchor.

With the closing share price of ABS-CBN stocks on Wednesday at P7.69 apiece, Mr. Leviste’s shares have an estimated value of P692.1 million. 

Sought for comment, Chinabank Capital Corp. Managing Director Juan Paolo E. Colet said in a Viber message: “The increased stake puts him in a good position to gain a board seat and thereby influence the direction of the company.”

He now has almost a fifth of the 502 million shares owned by Lopez, Inc.

Mr. Colet said that at least a 10% stake would be sufficient for Mr. Leviste to secure a board seat in ABS-CBN.

“So far, the market has viewed his entry positively as the stock price has risen nearly 80% since he first disclosed his stake in May. Many investors think Mr. Leviste can use his business acumen and valuable relationships to help turn around the fortunes of ABS-CBN,” he said.

On May 30, ABS-CBN’s board elected Ma. Rosario Santos-Concio as a director, filling the vacancy created by the passing of Augusto Almeda-Lopez.

AP Securities, Inc. Senior Research Analyst Francis Ferdinand D. Subido said in a Viber message that any price movement on ABS-CBN shares would be “speculation-driven since investors may be anticipating what Mr. Leviste’s actions will be once he does get a board seat.”

“Likely people are hoping that this can eventually be parlayed into a discussion on bringing back ABS-CBN’s media franchise given the past ties that Senator Legarda had with ABS-CBN,” he said.

“In terms of the financials, however, we have yet to see anything tangible given that the share purchases are not translating into liquidity infusions for ABS-CBN to service its debt,” he added.

Solar Philippines sold over P6 billion worth of shares of SP New Energy Corp. (SPNEC) in the previous year. The company and its affiliates still have 20.6 billion shares of SPNEC valued at around P22 billion.

SPNEC was founded by Mr. Leviste but is now controlled by the Pangilinan group via MGen Renewable Energy, Inc.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.

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