Gokongwei group wants to buy Petron

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — The Gokongwei Group and Morgan Stanley have expressed interest to purchase the 40-percent stake of Aramco Overseas Co. in Petron Corp., the country’s biggest oil refiner, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said yesterday.

“People have come forward to say that they are interested and we have actually referred them to the Development Bank of the Philippines. The Gokongwei group and some representatives from Morgan Stanley have expressed interest,” said Reyes.

But Lance Gokongwei, president and chief operating officer of JG Summit Petrochemical Corp. clarified in a letter that his group was interested in the 40-percent stake of Philippine National Oil Co. in Petron consisting of 3.75 billion shares.

The government earlier said it was looking to sell PNOC’s shares in Petron by the second semester to raise additional revenues for the government.

JG Summit Petrochemical is the first integrated polyethylene and polypropylene plant in the Philippines. It is a joint venture between JG Summit Holdings Inc. of the Philippines and Marubeni Corp. of Japan.

“We are interested in making an offer to purchase the above-mentioned shares of Petron at a price of P6.55 per share,” Gokongwei said in a letter also addressed to PNOC president Antonio Cailao.

He said his group was interested to discuss the offer with PNOC.

Reyes said representatives from Morgan Stanley had also expressed separate interest in the 40-percent stake of Saudi Aramco, which SEA Refinery Holdings, a unit of the Ashmore Group, announced it would purchase for $550 million.

Headquartered in New York, Morgan Stanley is an investment banking and global financial services corporation that serves a diversified group of companies, governments, financial institutions and individuals.

Morgan Stanley operates in 33 countries with 600 offices with assets worth US$749 billion under its management.

Reyes said the PNOC board had up to May 12 to weigh its options on offer of the Ashmore group. The government, which holds 40 percent of Petron through PNOC, can exercise its option to match the offer or to assign its right to another buyer.

Reyes said the PNOC board would meet today to decide on the matter.

“We have secured the DBP as our financial advisor, which also engaged the services of ING as external advisor on financial matter. But I cannot tell who exactly will end up with the shares,” Reyes said.

Petron, meanwhile, reported a net income of P658 million in the first three months. Petron’s board also approved a cash dividend of P0.10 per share for stockholders of record as of June 2. The company will pay the dividend on June 27.