Government names sugarman-banker to PNB board

- Rocel Felix () - February 27, 2002 - 12:00am
The government is nominating sugarman-banker Franklin G. Fuentebella to the board of the Philippine National Bank (PNB).

Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho said the nomination of Fuentebella is seen to diversify the backgrounds of the current directors of the bank.

Camacho could not be specific as to who among the current four government representatives will be replaced, but added the four will have to talk among themselves who will have to step down to give way to Fuentebella.

In a press statement, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Fuentebella who hails from Western Visayas, has "an extensive experience in banking and finance being the current chairman of one of the rural banks in Negros Occidental and president of a financing company."

Fuentebella, a B.S. Engineering graduate of the De La Salle University with a Masters in Business Administration from the University of the Philippines, was also a director of the Republic Planters Bank (renamed as MayBank) and brings with him, a strong background in the sugar industry and real estate sector which are all important sectors to the PNB.

Aside from outgoing PNB chairman Norberto Nazareno who is concurrent chief executive director and president of state-run Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. the other government representatives in the PNB board are Francisco Dizon, formerly president of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. and AsianBank; Victor Panlilio, former chief operating officer of Far East Bank and Trust Co., and Flor Tarriela, a former Citibank N.A., executive and finance undersecretary.

The 11-man PNB board has four government representatives, five from the camp of current majority shareholder Lucio Tan and two independent directors representing private shareholders, including presidential sister Cielo Macapagal Salgado and SGV & Co. founder Washington Sycip.

With the anticipated signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the government and the group of businessman Tan for the financial rehabilitation of debt-strapped PNB, the state will nominate four members to the board of directors and experienced bankers to the chairmanship and excom, including president, and deputy general counsel.

Tan, for his part, will nominate the general counsel, deputy chief financial officer and assistant corporate secretary, in addition to four board nominees.

Government is still trying to get the approval of Malacañang and is also awaiting the legal opinion of the Department of Justice (DOJ) before it signs the MOA with the Tan group.

Previously, Nazareno said a final copy of the MOA was sent to Malacañang for approval by President Arroyo and Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo.

Nazareno added that the board of directors of PDIC which lent P10 billion to PNB last year, has already authorized Camacho to sign for the government insurer.

The government also wants to get the legal opinion of the DOJ on the MOA before sealing it with Tan’s group.

At the same time, Nazareno said there are at least 40 special powers of attorney (SPAs) that need to be signed by individuals and corporations associated with Tan’s block. Since some of the individuals and corporations in Tan’s block are based abroad, the execution of each SPA must be accompanied by a consular certification.

Under the MOA, the Tan block will reduce its 67-percent controlling share in PNB to 44.98 percent while government will increase its 16.5-percent share to 44.98 percent.

The signing of the MOA will pave the way for the financial rehabilitation of PNB.

The business plan, including the restructuring plan will have to be approved by the incoming president and chief executive officer, who has yet to be chosen by Tan from a short list put together by government.

Earlier, Nazareno said that based on preliminary projections, PNB should be able to sell at least P2 billion of its foreclosed properties and further reduce its non-performing loans in the first year of the rehabilitation program.

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