Cosmos to delist shares in June

By Neil Jerome C. Morales, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 21 2013 09:45 AM | Updated as of Apr 21 2013 05:45 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Shares of softdrinks maker Cosmos Bottling Corp. will no longer be traded in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) starting in June.

The company behind popular brands Pop Cola and Sarsi failed to jack up its public ownership level, forcing it to submit a petition for voluntary delisting.

“We respectfully petition the PSE to issue an order delisting the shares of Cosmos from the PSE effective on June 21, 2013,” Cosmos said.

Cosmos said it is exiting the local bourse “since the public ownership of Cosmos falls below the minimum prescribed by the PSE.”

Cosmos principal stockholder and Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc. (CCBPI) wholly-owned subsidiary Philippine Bottlers Inc. (PBI) will buy back the 16.15 million shares held by the public at P1.758 per share for a total transaction value of P28.39 million.

Shares of Cosmos were last traded on May 23, 2006 at P3 each. Its stocks were suspended from trading after the company failed to submit its 2005 annual report.

As of end-February, only 1.79 percent of Cosmos’ shares were held by the public, way below the 10 percent minimum public float requirement of the PSE.

Cosmos said the tender offer started on April 17 and will end on May 17.

“Cosmos is unaware of any amounts in unpaid fees or penalties due to the PSE, but hereby undertakes to pay any such amounts together with the voluntary delisting fee in the amount equivalent to its annual listing maintenance fee for this year,” the company said.

In 2001, food and beverage firm RFM Corp. sold its 83.5-percent stake in Cosmos to CCBPI, which was then a joint venture of Coca-Cola Co. and San Miguel Corp. In 2009, Coca-Cola bought San Miguel’s 65-percent stake in CCBPI for $590 million.

Prior to the sale to CCBPI, Cosmos brands Pop Cola and Sarsi cornered 20-25 percent of the local softdrinks market.

Cosmos, the first softdrinks manufacturer in the country, was initially incorporated as Manila Aerated Water Factory in August 1945.

Its other products include Cheers Lemon and Orange, Jaz Cola and Sparkle, mostly catering to the lower-end segment of the market.

Numerous firms have opted to exit the PSE as they failed to comply with the public float rule.

For instance, Alaska Milk Corp., Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., First Metro Investment Corp., Eton Properties Philippines Inc., San Miguel Properties Inc. and San Miguel Brewery Inc. all opted to delist from the local bourse.

The minimum public float rule was intended to provide a fair and efficient facility for price discovery and ensure that sufficient liquidity exists. Securities exchanges in Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand already impose minimum float requirements of between 10 percent and 25 percent.