GMA stocks close 23.5% higher

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — GMA Network Inc. bucked the decline in the local equities market after its share price soared by 23.5 percent yesterday on its stock market debut.

The price of the TV network’s common shares closed at P10.50, up P2 from its initial public offering price of P8.50 a share, while its depository receipts, held under GMA Holdings Inc., jumped 29.4 percent to close at P11.

The network similarly bucked the uncertainties caused by a petition seeking to stop the company’s public offering by Imee Marcos, the eldest child of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who claims her family is the true owner of a block of shares in the company held by Gualberto Duavit Jr., an assemblyman in Marcos’ time, and his family.

“We are happy with the way things are developing. This can only be attributed to the strong performance of the company,” GMA chairman, president and chief executive Felipe Gozon told reporters following the listing ceremony.

By contrast, the stock exchange’s composite index went down by 51.30 points or 1.5 percent, to 3,467.46, as investors chose to reduce their positions after another steep fall on Wall Street last Friday.

Stock exchange president Francis Lim was elated by GMA’s strong performance on its first day of trading despite the lackluster trading in the market overall.

“The market was down today because of Dow Jones. Everybody knows that we are tracking the movements of the Dow Jones and other regional markets,” he said.

But he said the country’s fundamentals remained sound, and the market could soon bounce back once the Dow Jones recovered.

GMA raised as much as P7.7 billion from the sale of primary and secondary shares, and the company is expected to use P1.5 billion of the total proceeds to complete two television studios and other infrastructure to improve its broadcasting facilities.

The bulk of the proceeds will go to the selling shareholders Gozons, Duavits and Jimenezes.

ATK Kim Eng managing director Roberto Benares said the broadcasting firm’s IPO was 29 times oversubscribed overseas with orders reaching as much as $3.5 billion. As a result, the shares set aside for over-allotment would likely be exercised within the next 30 days.

The network’s share price was also not affected by Imee Marcos’ claim of ownership of Duavit’s shares in the company.

“It is suffice to say that the claim, as far as we are concerned, is baseless,” Duavit told reporters.

The network’s lawyer said his client had not yet received any letter from the Securities and Exchange Commission asking the network to comment on Imee Marcos’s complaint.

Gozon said the network itself was not involved in the supposed dispute between the Marcoses and the Duavits.

“This will have no effect on the financials of the company,” he said.

GMA Network is the chief rival of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp., which has been listed on the stock exchange since July 8, 1992.