MVP, Leviste in P5 billion bailout of Roxas firm

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star
MVP, Leviste in P5 billion bailout of Roxas firm
Countryside CEO Leandro Leviste (seated, left) and First Pacific CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan (seated, right) sign a term sheet to invest P5 billion in Roxas Holdings with First Pacific associate director Stanley Yang, UBS Asia Pacific head of Global Capital Markets Lauro Baja and Roxas Holdings CFO Christopher Lizo.

MANILA, Philippines — Solar power pioneer Leandro Leviste is teaming up anew with tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan, this time to save listed sugar company Roxas Holdings Inc. (RHI) from bankruptcy.

Leviste’s Countryside Investments Holdings Corp. has signed a term sheet with Pangilinan to invest P5 billion for an initial 71.6 percent in RHI.

Leviste said Countryside’s investment would help RHI service debt to avoid bankruptcy, increase tax revenues of the municipality of Nasugbu and create more and better jobs for the benefit of local farmers and former sugar industry workers.

RHI’s current debt to banks, including Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), BDO Unibank Inc. and Land Bank of the Philippines, amount to P4.4 billion, alongside P1.4 billion of trade payables.

Once the largest integrated sugar company in the Philippines, RHI owns Central Azucarera Don Pedro Inc., a former sugar refinery and sugar mill in 236 hectares of land in Nasugbu, Batangas.

Chaired by Pedro Roxas, RHI shut down its sugar business last March after 97 years in operations.

RHI also owns San Carlos Bioenergy Inc., a bioethanol plant in Negros Occidental.

The land of RHI is beside approximately 2,494 hectares owned by Roxas and Co. Inc. (RCI), another beleaguered Roxas company.

RCI was recently served a notice of collection and threatened with foreclosure over unpaid real property taxes by the municipality of Nasugbu.

This comes amid a longstanding land dispute between RCI and an estimated 50,000 residents and agrarian reform beneficiaries.

Leviste became the largest individual shareholder of RCI after acquiring 10 percent of its outstanding shares prior to the RHI deal.

Leviste also recently disclosed his intention to increase his stake in RCI to over 15 percent in compliance with Section 19 of the Securities Regulation Code.

These investments form part of Countryside’s plan to invest over P5 billion to develop Leviste’s home province of Batangas.

Leviste’s Countryside believes that equitable compensation and partnering with local communities is key to ensuring the success of any investment.

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