ABS-CBN drama: GSIS re­treated, SSS got stuck as Lopez parachuted

The Philippine Star - - BUSINESS - VICTOR C. AGUSTIN mon­ey­gor­ound.manila@ya­hoo.com

The mar­ket traders of the Gov­ern­ment Ser­vice In­surance Sys­tem were ap­par­ently bet­ter than the So­cial Se­cu­rity Sys­tem’s when it came to read­ing the ABS-CBN tea leaves.

Ac­cord­ing to reg­u­la­tory dis­clo­sures, GSIS had 839,760 com­mon shares of ABS-CBN in June 2018. By March this year, GSIS al­ready had zero, zilch, noth­ing, none, nada ex­po­sure to the Lopez net­work.

SSS, on the other hand, stuck with the broad­cast net­work even as its fran­chise clock was tick­ing. The pri­vate sec­tor’s pen­sion fund was re­ported hold­ing 5,764,260 ABSCBN shares last March, the same level that it had two years ago.

Strangely, even the Lopezes them­selves ap­peared to have hedged on their own broad­cast net­work as the prospects of its fran­chise re­newal grew dim­mer.

Ac­cord­ing to reg­u­la­tory dis­clo­sures, Metrobank “as se­cu­rity agent for ABS-CBN Hold­ings” had re­duced its hold­ings of ABSCBN com­mon shares to 243.67 mil­lion by March from 264.78 mil­lion two years ago.

Even ABS-CBN chair­man emer­i­tus Eu­ge­nio Lopez III ap­par­ently believed in the say­ing that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

‘Gabby’ Lopez, as it turned out, had qui­etly taken out his mod­est nest egg in the more con­tro­ver­sial sis­ter com­pany, just at the PDR/for­eign own­er­ship is­sue of ABS-CBN Hold­ings was heat­ing up.

Lopez, who holds both US and Filipino pass­ports, had 1.34 mil­lion shares of ABS-CBN Hold­ings as of June 2018.

By March this year, the Filipino-Amer­i­can had dis­ap­peared from the share­hold­ers list, with­out any dis­clo­sure from ABS-CBN Hold­ings as to when Gabby Lopez had made the dis­posal.

Based on other reg­u­la­tory dis­clo­sures, the for­mer ABS-CBN pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive trans­ferred his ABS-CBN Hold­ings share­hold­ings to an un­known party some­time in the third quar­ter of 2019.

Even as other par­ties were parachut­ing, there were a num­ber of con­trar­ian types who ap­par­ently gen­uinely believed in ABS-CBN’s re­silience. Take BPI Se­cu­ri­ties, for in­stance. The Ay­ala bro­ker­age firm, ei­ther for its own ac­count or its un­named clients, dou­bled down on the coun­try’s net­work just as its par­ent, the Bank of Philip­pine Is­lands, was en­larg­ing its loan ex­po­sure to the Lopez net­work.

BPI Se­cu­ri­ties only had 2.75 mil­lion ABS-CBN shares in June 2018. By March of this year, the ac­count had grown nearly twice to 5.22 mil­lion shares. COL Fi­nan­cial is another who swam against the tide. The on­line bro­ker­age firm had dou­bled its ABS-CBN stake to 13.8 mil­lion shares last March from 6.9 mil­lion two years ago, only to get ex­posed for swimming naked when the prover­bial con­gres­sional tide went out. A pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tion for COL’s “ipit” po­si­tion? Its army of day-traders ap­par­ently gave more weight to Al­bay Rep. Ed­cel Lag­man’s or even Ate Vi’s, ex­u­ber­ant pro­jec­tions than on Kris Aquino and her sphinx-like si­lence on her for­mer net­work.

Heard through the grapevine

No of­fice list­ing could be found in the in­ter­net about a “Global King­dom In­vest­ments Ltd” that Chelsea Lo­gis­tics said was in­fus­ing P500 mil­lion new cap­i­tal into the ship­ping trans­port em­pire of Davao’s Den­nis Uy.

There is, how­ever, a “Global King­dom In­vest­ments LLC” based in Mi­ami, Florida that is listed on the web, which when clicked on the LinkedIn ac­count of its Latino pres­i­dent led to a, this is not a joke, a Chi­nese web­site.

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