IT seems that three neophyte senators are trying very hard to gain public recognition at the expense of a businessman who happens to be the single biggest stockholder of a company listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange.
Unknown to them, some, if not many, TV viewers see the traditional politicians in them, particularly Aquilino Pimentel 3rd and Alan Peter Cayetano, who have followed in the footsteps of their fathers.
Antonio Trillanes 4th, their third partner, is a former soldier turned mutineer who had, in the past, ironically pointed his guns at the Filipino taxpayers, who had bought those guns for the soldiers to protect them.
What could Filipinos do against these adventurous legislators who, instead of enacting laws which is what they were elected to do in the first place, focus more on promoting their ambitions? Yes, they are so young yet so very imaginative.
In a previous piece in this space, I wrote on how the Senate tinkered with the stock market by going after businessman Dante Tan, who was one of the significant stockholders of BW Resources Corp. (BWRC). The rest of the story is now part of history: Then President Joseph Ejercito Estrada was impeached, but he was driven out of Malacañang by People Power and not by the legal process that is now being undertaken by these honorable senators.
Will history repeat itself? Hopefully, what happened to Estrada won’t happen to the current chief occupant of the palace, although certain events are unfolding similar to those that occurred in 2001. I am writing this piece because Cayetano, Pimentel and Trillanes need to be reminded of the dangers of using a public company to boost their political image. If this is their egoistic intention in going after businessman Antonio Tiu, then they are courting the risk of antagonizing the public investors who trade in listed stocks, some of whom probably even heavily invested in a company identified or associated with Tiu.
Here are some numbers about Greenery Holdings Inc. which lists Tiu as chairman, president and chief executive officer in a posting on the PSE website: 110.5 million shares or 59.3 percent of 186.3 million outstanding shares are owned by the public; non-public shareholdings include 53.8 million shares or 28.9 percent which belong to affiliates, directors and officers; 20.8 million shares or 11.1 percent are held by principal or substantial stockholders; and 1.2 million shares or 0.7 percent are owned by “others.”
This ownership profile makes Greenery Holdings more public than others. Imagine almost 60 percent held by the public! This makes the public the company’s majority stockholders who should control the board. Of course, Tiu and his allies literally own the board that even foreigners who own 25.2 million shares, or 13.5 percent, do not have representation in the company’s policy-making body.
By the way, Greenery Holdings’ performance as a listed company is not the result of the Senate investigation of Tiu. The stock has been trading below its par value of P1. On Friday, it closed at P0.62 because of Greenery Holdings’ financials that, among other accounting entries, showed a slight increase in its deficit to P292.4 million as of June 30, 2014 from P290.7 million as of Dec. 31, 2013.
Neither has Greenery Holdings pulled down the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi), because it is not among the 30 companies that represent the market’s main barometer. Cayetano, Pimentel and Trillanes need not worry that they may be hurting the market; they are not. As a matter of fact, trading remains normal as if nothing is happening at the Senate.
In short, the stock market has been ignoring the three senators and their investigation—or is it persecution?—of Tiu. Despite the trio’s efforts to be publicly noticed and be recognized and applauded, the market remains unaffected. Proof of this is PSEi’s continuing surge beyond 7,000 points. Cayetano, Pimentel and Trillanes should try harder by using a different but more publicly acceptable strategy and the market might listen.