San Miguel says will not take over Meralco

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 12 2009 03:45 PM | Updated as of Feb 13 2009 10:01 AM

San Miguel Corp. on Thursday denied market speculation that it is seeking to take control of Manila Electric Co., the country's top power distributor.

Shares of the listed utility, known as Meralco, have surged by almost a third over the past week on market speculation its two major shareholders -- San Miguel and the Lopez group -- were vying for control of the distributor.

"San Miguel is not taking over Meralco. (It is) supporting (the) Lopez (group)," San Miguel president Ramon Ang told Dow Jones Newswires.

"We are not aware of any particular reason for the run-up in the price of the company's shares," Meralco told the Philippine Stock Exchange in a formal reply to explain the unusual price and volume movements of the scrip.

It said the management did not know which entities or investors were buying up Meralco shares nor their reasons for doing so.

Meralco shares closed 6.4 percent up at 83 pesos Thursday on turnover of 21.4 million shares worth 1.75 billion pesos (37.17 million dollars), accounting for nearly 57 percent of the market volume for the day.

Since finishing at 59.50 pesos on January 30, the stock price has risen more than 30 percent.

San Miguel, Southeast Asia's biggest food and beverage outfit and which has been making a determined shift into heavy industries, has a 34 percent stake in Meralco.

It acquired 27 percent from the state pension fund Government Service Insurance System last year along with a seven percent stake from a local fund.

Both deals enabled San Miguel to secure four seats on the 11-member Meralco board.

The Lopez group is one of the Philippines' major family owned conglomeratesm with business interests in media, telecoms, power generation, banking, and property development.

It also has a 34 percent stake in Meralco.

Disclosure: is the online news department of ABS-CBN Interactive Inc., a subsidiary of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. ABS-CBN and Meralco are both part of the Lopez Group of Companies