El Shaddai broadcast station eyes takeover of IBC-13

- Marichu A. Villanueva -
If they can’t have one, they will go for the other.

After an initial offer to buy into the sequestered Radio Philippine Network (RPN-9) television station fell through over vehement objections by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the broadcasting company owned by the family of El Shaddai Movement leader Mike Velarde has set its sights on another sequestered TV station.

learned that negotiations were underway for the Velarde-owned Delta Broadcasting Corp. to buy into the International Broadcasting Corp. (IBC-13), which, like RPN-9, was sequestered by the government through the PCGG.

Both television stations were previously owned by businessman Roberto Benedicto, a crony of ousted President Ferdinand Marcos. The boards of directors on these two television networks were appointed by Malacañang prior to the sequestration.

Even before Delta Broadcasting Corp. gets to buy into IBC-13, Ma. Lourdes Velarde, a relative of the El Shaddai leader, is already sitting on the IBC-13 board of directors.

Delta president Dr. Frank Velarde is the son of the El Shaddai leader.

This early, two IBC-13 unions, which got wind of the entry of Delta into the network, have aired their objections to the proposed buy-in under which Delta is supposedly giving only P10 million in loans to the financially strapped TV station, along with a commitment to guarantee a P150 million loan that IBC-13 will seek from banks.

The rank-and-file personnel of IBC-13 suspect there will be a "fire sale" of their company coming hard on the heels of the appearance of President Arroyo and the candidates of the administration Koalisyon ng Katapatan at Karanasan sa Kinabukasan (K-4) at the midnight Palm Sunday Mass of the El Shaddai at the Amvel compound in San Dionisio, Parañaque City.

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye expressed no surprise over the reported sale of IBC-13 to the Velarde firm when his comment on the matter was sought.

"We have been trying to privatize these sequestered firms and this is being handled by the PCGG," Bunye told The STAR.

"If we get a good price and the terms and conditions are satisfactory to both parties, well and good," he added.

But IBC-13 insiders expressed surprise that the Palace seemed to be in a hurry to enter into the sale of their company, especially in light of reports of a "midnight" revamp of the network’s nine-man board of directors.

Lincoln Tan Jr. was replaced as board chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) by former agrarian reform secretary Philip Ella Juico, who was formerly a board member. Tan was retained as board director.

Juico’s appointment was signed by the President on March 5, but he was formally installed on March 30, during the television network’s board meeting.

Also installed with Juico on the IBC-13 board were IBC executive vice president Gel Valbuena and a certain Victor Felipe.

The other members of the board include company president Renato Bello, PCGG Commissioner Ruben Carranza, broadcast owner Lito Yabut and Lauro Vizconde.

IBC insiders, who refused to be named, said the Delta offer is apparently being prepared for approval by six of the board members: Juico, Bello, Valbuena, Felipe, Ma. Lourdes Velarde and Carranza.

The original offer of Delta to buy into RPN-9 was blocked by its board of directors due to provisions in the contract that favor Delta.

The aborted RPN-9 buy-in deal involved a P300 million capital infusion payable on an installment basis, of which only P30 million would be paid in actual cash, while the rest of the capital infusion would come from future earnings from the prime-time slots the television station would sell.

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