Holding firm buys National Life Insurance

Ted P. Torres - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - After nearly a decade, closeted National Life Insurance Co. (NLIC) has been acquired by a holding company led by a certain Ricardo Veloso and Ricardo Cuerva.

For an unconfirmed sum of at least P1.25 billion, the newly-formed holding company of the Veloso and Cuerva group acquired over nine thousand policyholders and holders of premium deposit fund (PDF), the head office property along Ayala Ave. in Makati, and a hotel in Mandaluyong, and liabilities running in the billions of pesos.

From the start, the Insurance Commission (IC) had made it clear that whoever acquires NLIC must continue to operate the life insurance firm, and service PDF and policyholders, as among the conditions of the sale. The deed of sale was signed last week.

Benjamin L. de Leon is the president and chief executive officer of NLIC.

R. G. Manabat & Co., the Philippine member of KPMG International, was appointed financial advisor by the IC, upon the recommendations of the NLIC Interim Governance Board (IGB).

The board, composed of an independent professional, representatives of policyholders, NLIC and the IC-assigned conservator, was formed to finally determine the proper course of action for the insurer.

Industry sources said that details of the agreement remained sketchy, although policyholders wanting to make claims may get a little more than a fraction of the original values of their policies or PDFs.

The IC placed NLIC, a life insurance firm, under conservatorship in 2006 after its accumulated losses eroded its margin of solvency – a measure of ability to pay obligations as they fall due.

It was issued a temporary license to operate after owners promised to cover all deficiencies, under the supervision of the IC.

But NLIC was placed under conservatorship again in 2010, and the following year, it was placed under receivership.

A number of rehabilitation plans were submitted under several conservators.

For the meantime, reputable institutions like BDO Unibank Inc., the Philippine American Life and General Insurance Co. (Philam Life) and the STI Group were invited to take a look at the troubled insurer.

By 2014, the IGB was formed and R. G. Manabat & Co. was brought in to look for a buyer.

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