Former SC chief justice Puno joins San Miguel board

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 21 2011 12:52 AM | Updated as of Jan 21 2011 07:16 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Former Supreme Court chief justice Reynato Puno has joined the board of diversifying conglomerate San Miguel Corp.

In a disclosure to the stock exchange, San Miguel said Puno was elected as an independent director during a board meeting on Jan. 20.

"Former Chief Justice Puno has all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications set forth in the SMC By-Laws and the SMC Manual of Corporate Governance. With the election of Chief Justice Puno, there are now three independent directors in the Company’s Board of Directors," the disclosure said.

Puno has been part of the judiciary since 1972 when he was still a Quezon City judge. He served as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from Dec 2006 until he retired on May 17, 2010.

He led the Moral Force Movement in 2009, fanning speculations that this would be his vehicle for his presidential ambitions. He did not run for any position in the May 2010 elections.

Before he retired that month, however, the Supreme Court upheld a 2009 decision allowing San Miguel to change the character of common shares representing 24% of the company's voting stock. For over 2 decades, coconut farmers have been disputing the ownership of these shares, citing the coco levy they were forced to pay during the Marcos years as the fund source for acquiring these shares.

The 2010 Supreme Court decision, which was penned by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, paved the way for the conversion of the disputed common shares into preferred shares that have no voting rights.

It was one of the last hurdles in San Miguel's strategy to diversify its business portfolio. From its stable food and beverage business, San Miguel has been aggressively acquiring assets and positioning itself as a key player in these potentially high-growth sectors: power and energy, telecommunications, infrastructure, utilities, mining, and banking.