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Gokongwei still eyes government stake in Petron

JG Summit Holdings Inc., the highly-diversified holding firm of the family of taipan John Gokongwei, remains interested in acquiring the government’s remaining 40-percent shareholdings in oil refiner Petron Corp., according to a top company official.

JG Summit president Lance Gokongwei said he couldn’t say yet whether they would raise their offer until the terms of reference for the sale of the government’s stake in Petron has been released.

“We’re waiting for the terms of reference.  That’s the only time we’ll decide what to do,” said Gokongwei.

JG Summit’s offer of $577 million or P6.55 per share for the government’s 3.75 billion shares in Petron, was deemed low by the government.

Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes earlier said the government is only willing to sell its shares in Petron held by the Philippine National Oil Co. “at a premium.”

Petron shares closed 10 centavos lower Friday at P6.30 from P6.40 Thursday.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said the privatization process for the country’s largest domestic oil refining company will take place once it secures the approval of President Arroyo. 

Accounting for about 40 percent of the Southeast Asian nation’s total fuel requirements, Petron is branching out into petrochemicals which require huge investments. 

Petron is seeking to increase gasoline production and extraction of propylene, a petrochemical used for food packaging materials and impact-resistant plastics, with the opening of a new facility at its 180,000 barrel per day refinery northwest of Manila.

Petron has a network of about 1,200 service stations in and outside Metro Manila.

In 1998, JG Summit through unit JG Summit Petrochemical Corp., put up a petrochemical plant in Batangas, which has since become the country’s first integrated polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) complex.

Apart from petrochemicals, the JG Summit group owns the country’s second-biggest airline Cebu Pacific. It also has interests in property and mall development, food, telecoms and banking.

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