ATI stockholders approve sale of Mariveles grains terminal


MANILA, Philippines - Stockholders of Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI) approved yesterday the sale of the company’s grains terminal in Mariveles, Bataan to a “third-party buyer.”

The STAR earlier reported that the purchasing entity is grains trader and miller La Filipina Uy Gongco Corp., owned by businessman Alfonso Uy.

The grains terminal is operated by Mariveles Grain Corp (MGC), a wholly-owned unit of ATI.

ATI chairman Eusebio Tanco said the grains terminal, which he emphasized only comprises a small portion of the company’s total assets, will be sold at a price that yields a profit.

He added that the ongoing negotiations with the buyer represents “certainly a better deal for ATI.”

Divesifying conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) has been in negotiations with ATI since 2008 for the purchase of the Mariveles grains terminal through San Miguel Logistics Asia Corp. and was confident it would clinch the deal until ATI announced it was selling the Bataan grains facility to an undisclosed buyer.

SMC was planning to team up with Toyota Tsusho Corp. of Japan for the acquisition which is estimated to cost P1.6 billion. The deal would have made SMC the regional leader in grains distribution and logistics.

Sources said SMC was caught by surprise when ATI announced it was fully divesting in MGC, which is one of Asia’s most advanced bulk grains terminal, to another party. The terminal can accommodate vessels of up to 70,000 deadweight tons, discharge cargo at 10,000 metric tons per day and store 180,000 MT of both soybean and grain cargoes at any given time.

The Mariveles terminal can also handle deliveries from Panamax vessels at a rate of 8,000 to 10,000 metric tons per day.

SMC said that when its plan to acquire the Mariveles terminal from ATI did not materialize, its interest in the North Harbor modernization project gathered momentum.

The diversifying conglomerate has acquired the 35-percent stake of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) in the Manila North Harbor Port Inc. (MNHPI), the company that bagged the 25-year, P14.5-billion contract to modernize and operate North Harbor, the country’s busiest domestic port. Harbour Center Port Terminal Inc. (HCPTI) of the Romero family owns the remaining 65 percent.

SMC revealed it now plans to construct a brand new grains terminal in North Harbor to service the needs of SMC’s food and beverage businesses.

Meanwhile, Tanco said “price is not only the consideration” as the company goes after the “whole package” that the current buyer has offered.

“We will try to complete the transaction by the end of the year,” he said.

The Mariveles terminal has stopped commercial operations since Dec. 31 after the local government of Bataan filed a tax delinquency case against ATI for failure to pay the proper taxes for real property that includes the land on which the grains terminal stands.

Bataan officials have been seeking to auction the Mariveles terminal to cover the supposed tax deficiencies.

La Filipina Uy Gongco acquired the port facilities of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) in Guimaras Island about five years ago. Aside from grains trading, it is also into corn milling, animal feeds production, among others.

It also owns a 15-percent stake in STEAG State Power Inc., owner of the 232-megawatt coal plant at the Phividec Industrial Estate in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental. La Filipina also owns a 1.17-percent stake in Aboitiz Equity Ventures.

ATI holds a 20-year contract to manage and develop the Mariveles grain terminal until 2013, renewable for another 20-year period.

It also manages and operates Manila’s South Harbor under a contract for cargo handling and related services granted by the Philippine Ports Authority effective until May 2038; the Port of Batangas; and the Makar Wharf in Gen. Santos.

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