• Higher public float requirement mulled

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    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will study this year whether or not the stock market could accommodate a higher percentage of companies’ equity for public float, and may set the minimum at between 15 and 20 percent.

    The SEC has been mulling over the plan to start requiring companies to have at least 15 percent or even up to 20 percent of their shares held by the public, up from the previous 10 percent public float requirement.

    However, Philippine Stock Exchange president and chief executive officer Hans Sicat had indicated that the implementation of a higher minimum public ownership (MPO) rule may not be implemented this year due to certain pending issues.

    On the sidelines of the Philippine Economic Forum held on Tuesday, SEC Chairman Teresita Herbosa told reporters that an international organization has offered to extend technical assistance for a study on whether the market is prepared for a higher public ownership requirement.

    ”I am aiming for this matter to be studied and then compared with other ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) studies, for us to see whether our market can absorb it,” Herbosa said.

    The SEC may have the results of the study by mid-year, which should be followed by public consultations.

    In 2011, the local bourse strictly re-imposed the 10 percent MPO rule among listed firms, setting June 2013 as the final deadline for compliance. State-run PNOC Exploration Corp was the only company that failed to meet the deadline and was, therefore, automatically delisted in July.

    Sicat said the intention to hike the public ownership requirement has “been raised a number of times.”

    ”We have to figure out [if the implementation can push through within this year]because right now, we are at an average 30 percent public float. The problem . . . with that particular number is, you are looking at the smallest sliver,” he said.

    ”There are a few companies at the 10 percent level but there are a lot of companies above that. By increasing it, the question is, whether we are hitting the most important sectors or just [making]marginal improvements,” he added.

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