• Suntrust: From Dante’s BWRC to Andrew’s Fairmont

    Emeterio Sd. Perez

    Emeterio Sd. Perez

    BW Resources Corp. (BWRC), the listed company that brought down a presidency, did not die; it only changed identity. After two or three changes in its corporate name, the new majority stockholder finally settled for Suntrust Home Developers Inc.

    Businessman Andrew Tan is the controlling stockholder of Suntrust, which he said was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on January 18, 1956. He did not mean Suntrust will turn 58 years and eight days old from today; it was Ramie Textiles Inc. that was granted on January 18, 1956 by the SEC a corporate charter and would be 58 years old on January 18.

    Suntrust has never been engaged in textile production. What probably happened was it either bought into Ramitex or bought out the latter’s stockholders to get listed on the board of the Philippine Stock Exchange to become a public company.

    Tan and his team of managers must be well-versed in the history of Suntrust, particularly in the acquisitions of assets from “affiliates,” or sister companies in layman’s terms. Still, they either they did not know or probably they chose to forget Fairmont Holdings Inc., which was, in fact, the buyer of “affiliates” assets.

    When he took over BWRC, Tan renamed it Fairmont Holdings, which eventually became Suntrust, one of Tan’s property holding companies.

    If you were Tan the businessman, you too would not want your company to be associated with BWRC. Although it owned a nationwide bingo franchise, it had an unforgettable role in the impeachment of a former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada. Although the impeachment failed to unseat him, a people’s power succeeded in ousting him in early 2001. With Estrada out of Malacanang, then Vice President Gloria Arroyo, then still allied with former President Corazon C. Aquino, succeeded him to become the longest-serving president since 1986.

    Incidentally, Suntrust would always be associated with BWRC despite a series of name changes. It may not have direct link with the BW scandal, but the association would remain part of the history of Suntrust that used to be known as Fairmont, which, in turn, was the name Tan adopted for BWRC to bury the memory of the stock price manipulation scandal that rocked the local market.

    You could only be amazed and puzzled how the price of a stock with only the planned entry of businessman Stanley Ho as a significant stockholder would jump to P112.22 on August 5, 1999 from only P2 in early January of the same year. Despite such huge surge, certain analysts would tell investors to “buy” BWRC for the long term. What an advice that hurt the innocent market neophytes!

    As a listed stock, BWRC had another Tan behind it. His first name is Dante, who according to insiders at the Philippine Stock Exchange was more the victim than the culprit behind BWRC price manipulation. He has since vanished and is reportedly living abroad.

    Due Diligencer is relating the brief history of Suntrust not to revive the company’s link with BW scandal, or BW scam as some would describe the stock’s role in the Estrada’s unfinished impeachment. Rather, this piece is intended only to inform Suntrust’s small stockholders where it is now and how even Tan the majority owner appears to be uncertain where it should be going.

    As the majority stockholder, Tan owns 1.387 billion Suntrust shares, or 61.65 percent of 2.5 billion outstanding shares including 250 million shares to which he subscribed when the company increased its authorized capital stock to P3 billion computed at P1 par value. Of his subscribed shares to the additional P1 billion capital, he has paid only P62.50 million, leaving him with an unpaid subscription of P187.50 million.

    With Tan’s unpaid subscribed shares, Suntrust’s small stockholders should worry about the fate of their holdings since the company has no direct business for them to be proud of. “The Company,” according to a filing, “currently does not have any business operations and is not offering any product or service.”

    Suntrust though has some business but does this through a subsidiary named First Oceanic Management Inc., which is “engaged in property management of residential and office buildings and private estates.” Unfortunately, its unit’s activity would not be enough to boost Suntrust’s stock price that remained mostly below its P1 par value, although it topped P1 by five centavos on January 3, 2014 but closed lower at P0.98.

    With this performance, Suntrust’s small owners may have to wait longer for them to recover their investments. But those who had bought at P100 or higher in 1999, could hope only to cut their losses if not sooner, then perhaps much later.



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