Kuwaiti firm acquires add’l 32% of Aboitiz Transport

FILIPINO-Kuwaiti firm KGL-NM Holdings, Inc. yesterday confirmed it is exercising its option to acquire P1.46 billion ($30 million) worth of shares of Aboitiz Transport System Corp. (ATSC) by the end of this month, holding firm Aboitiz Equity Venture (AEV) said.

In a statement to the Philippine Stock Exchange, the holding firm of the Aboitiz family said the purchase will involve 32 percent or 790.8 million shares of ATS priced at P1.84 per share.

“However, the actual number of shares to be acquired by KGLI-NM will be determined based on the dollar exchange rate on closing date, which is expected to occur on April 30, 2009,” AEV said.

AEV added that KGLI-NM’s planned purchase is without prejudice to its right under a previous agreement to acquire the remaining ATSC shares owned by AEV and sister firm Aboitiz & Company (ACO).

AEV and ACO were supposed to sell their combined 93-percent stake in ATSC to KGLI-NM for P2.044 per share or about $100 million. But the global credit crisis pushed the Kuwait-linked firm to just buy 42 percent of the shipping firm from the group and 7 percent from public investors at a lower price of P1.84 per share.

KGLI-NM however has the option to buy the remaining 51 percent of ATSC from May to September 2009. Once it acquires 32 percent of ATSC by end-April, both AEV and ACO will be left with only a 19 percent stake in the ferry company.

ATSC owns popular transport brands, SuperFerry, SuperCat, and Cebu Ferries.

The company was considered the crown jewel of the Cebu-based elite Aboitiz family for decades, but the business has been struggling amid oil price volatilities and stiff competition from budget airlines.

Its buyer, KGLI-NM, is a 60-40 partnership between Dutch company, KGL Investment BV, and the Negros Holdings and Management Corp., the holding firm of a smaller player in the local inter-island transport business.

KGL Investment BV is beneficially owned by Kuwaiti-based KGL Investment Company, which has investments in port and port-related businesses and other logistics related businesses in the Philippines through the establishment of an air-transportation logistics complex in Clark Field, Pampanga.


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