• How did Kris perform as CAT director?

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    Emeterio Sd. Perez

    Emeterio Sd. Perez

    UNDISCLOSED? Is Kristina Bernadette C. Aquino, a sister of President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino 3rd, still a member of the board of Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT)? A filing posted on November 27, 2013 on the website of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) announced her election, along with seven other nominees led by presidential uncle, Jose Cojuangco Jr.

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    The latest CAT posting, however, listed seven and not eight directors. Missing from the list was Kris, then—and still is—the media celebrity, and, since July 1, 2010, a presidential sister.

    She has a little over two years to continue enjoying her second credential because her brother’s six-year term as Malacanang chief temporary occupant will finally end on June 30, 2016.

    Due Diligencer accidentally discovered the incomplete list of CAT directors while verifying the information contained in a press release issued by UMA Pilipinas that “the presidential sister successfully pursued a seat on the CAT board just last October.”

    UMA Pilipinas has long been fighting for the distribution of Hacienda Luisita to legitimate farmers, who charged the Cojuangcos of circumventing the agrarian reform law. More on this in another Due Diligencer piece.

    Kris’ directorship, the workers claimed, was “a move many perceived not only as palpable consolidation of Cojuangco-Aquino influence, but also as preparation for the media celebrity’s gubernatorial bid in Tarlac . . .”

    Kris the insider. The public investors, who trade in listed stocks, may not at all be interested in her political ambitions. They would be more concerned with CAT the public company and the role of Ms. Aquino in her family’s sugar central. As a director and insider, how did her presence on the board influence the decisions of the board? Will the company disclose the meetings in which she was present so that the market could view her performance and contribution to the company?

    Meanwhile, it is up to the CAT management to explain why the company reported only seven directors in its regulatory filing.

    Why did it omit Kris from the PSE website? Has she been ousted even before she could take her oath? Was the filing announcing her election only for the record and not for public consumption?

    Too busy. It seems Kris the entertainer and talk show host, and lately, endorser of Globe Telecommunications Inc., has been busy attending to her role in all this but has, so it seems, ignored her duty as an elected director of a public company. If not, then why the omission of her name in the final posting on CAT’s board memberships?

    Yes, Central Azucarera de Tarlac is controlled by the Cojuangcos. But being listed, it has the responsibility to inform the public about anything that happens inside the boardroom, particularly when an issue concerns a member of the board that Kris is. Never mind if it has been losing money. As of December 31, 2013, its accumulated deficit has amounted to P440.239 million.

    Has Kris the director contributed anything that could make CAT recover? The answer should come from the top managers of the company that has been losing heavily over the years. Way back in September 2005, it had a deficit of only P290.251 million.
    Pays and perks. Instead of five, CAT has only four highly-paid executives, namely, Jose Cojuangco Jr., chairman and president; Ernesto G. Teopaco, director and vice president; Wellerita D. Aguas, assistant vice president and assistant treasurer; and Eufrocinio F. dela Merced, assistant vice president.

    As a group, Cojuangco and company will have received, until June 30, 2014, the amount of P2.782 million, divided into salaries of P2.260 million and bonuses of P556,500.

    The compensation filing showed that the eight directors will have been paid P3.617 million by the end of CAT’s fiscal year, which will be on June 30. Divided by eight, each will have received P452,187.50.

    The filing did not qualify if Cojuangco and Teopaco, being among the highest-paid executives, were also entitled to director’s fees. If only six were to share in P3.617 million in board fees, then each would get P602,916, a little bit higher than P452,187.50 as earlier computed.

    Whichever it is, either amount would be “peanuts” to Kris, who, after all, gets fantastic pay and perks from Globe. It really pays well to be both a presidential sister and celebrity.

    esdperez@gmail.com

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