Retail chain fights SEC ruling in court to survive


The Uniwide Group is challenging before the Court of Appeals (CA) what it calls an “oppressive” decision by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to dissolve the once-dominant retail chain under its receivership and then dispose off its remaining assets.

In a Motion for Extension of Time to File Petition for Review, the six petitioner-companies of the Uniwide Group asked for more time to respond before the Court this July to the month-old en banc order of SEC to dissolve them.

Having settled most of its debts on its way to financial recovery, the Uniwide Group filed before the appeals court on May 13 a Motion for Certiorari for the court to direct SEC to act on the petitioner-companies’ long-pending appeal for the corporate watchdog to let them withdraw from its receivership so they can deal directly with their last remaining creditors on their own.

After ignoring the petitioners’ repeated appeals since 2010 for SEC to allow them to pursue their 15-year rehabilitation program, SEC—in an apparent response to Uniwide’s May 13 petition before the Court—suddenly decided in en banc session last May 30 to terminate this recovery plan and move for the dissolution of all the group’s companies.

After receiving a copy of the SEC decision only last month, the petitioners asked the Court in their latest Motion for Extension to give them until July 6 to respond to the termination and dissolution order.

“The SEC en banc has erred in its appreciation of the facts, and has departed from applicable laws and jurisprudential doctrines,” they said in their Motion for Extension.

“Wherefore, petitioners respectfully pray that the Honorable Court grant them . . . until July 6, within which to finalize and file the petition for review,” they added.

In documents attached to their two motions, the Uniwide Group said its rehabilitation was still viable when a SEC Hearing Panel (SHP) said otherwise three years ago, given that that “their assets in the total amount of P19.864 billion are more than enough to pay off their liabilities in the total amount of P11.1 billion.”

The petitioners bared that their latest motion “pertains to the rehabilitation of the Uniwide Group of Companies, which was ordered terminated by the SEC en banc in its decision dated May 30, 2013.

“Curiously,” they said, “the SEC en banc also declared the dissolution of all the companies in the group, namely: 1] Uniwide sales Inc. 2] Uniwide Holdings Inc. 3] Naic Resources and Development Corp. 4] Uniwide Sales Realty and Resources Corp. 5] First Paragon Corp. and 6] Uniwide Sales Warehouse Club Inc. is hereby ordered pursuant to Section 6-1 of the SEC Rules of Procedure on Corporate Recovery, after which, Liquidation shall follow.”

The petition is the latest in a series of legal actions that the Uniwide Group led by its president, Jimmy Gow, has taken with the end-goal of freeing the conglomerate from SEC-supervised receivership, dealing with its last remaining creditors on its own, and accelerating its pace of financial recovery—apparently in the hope of regaining its erstwhile market position in its core business of retailing.


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