Uniwide to hail SEC before Court of Appeals

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THE Uniwide Group will seek redress before the Court of Appeals over the alleged inaction of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on the firm’s settling most of its debts and boosting its revenues.

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In a statement, Uniwide said that it is set to elevate the case before the Court of Appeals after the SEC ordered the termination of the Uniwide Group’s 15-year rehabilitation plan in apparent disregard for the 2012 findings of the SEC-appointed receiver committee.

The committee had held that the retail operations were “still viable, as the conglomerate had already trimmed its secured debts by 80 percent to just P1.36 billion and initiated aggressive steps to boost revenues.”

The Uniwide Group had repeatedly appealed to the SEC to allow them to withdraw from its receivership even before the SEC’s receiver panel submitted a 2012 annual report favorable to the group.

But the SEC still terminated Uniwide’s recovery plan altogether, dissolved its six-member-companies, and liquidated all of the assets of the country’s once dominant retail chain.

The six-member-companies—Uniwide Sales Inc., Uniwide Holdings Inc., Naic Resources and Development Corp., Uniwide Sales Realty and Resources Corp., First Paragon Corp. and Uniwide Sales Warehouse Club Inc.—have elevated the case to the appellate court.

In its May 30 en banc ruling, the SEC ruled that “petitioners-appellants can no longer be rescued.”

The ruling was signed by SEC chairperson Teresita Herbosa and commissioners Juanita Cueto, Manuel Huberto Gaite, Eladio Jala and Antonieta Ibe.

However, the three-year-old recommendation was obviously overtaken by the 2012 year-end report by the SEC-assigned receiver ruling, which said that the conglomerate had pruned its secured debts to just P1.36 billion, after settling P6.160 billion of its P7.525 billion loans, mostly through dacion en pago (property for debt) arrangements.

The SEC-assigned rehabilitation receiver, lawyer Julio Elamparo, said in his annual report to the SEC that the remaining P1.364 billion in secured credits covers the amount Uniwide still owes its last two remaining creditor-banks—the Philippine National Bank, or PNB (P832.96 million) and Allied Bank (P360.65 million).

“Uniwide will continue to cater to the C and D [income bracket]market, which are mostly the Divisoria and Baclaran customers/patrons,” said Elamparo in his year-end report, which was submitted to the SEC on February 26, 2013.

“It will pursue to increase its target sales through aggressive marketing programs and efficient operations and further maximize its leasable areas/spaces,” he pointed out.

In its motion for extension, the group said “the SEC en banc has erred in its appreciation of the facts, and has departed from applicable laws and jurisprudential doctrines.”

The SEC supposedly ignored Uniwide’s request for a review of the rehabilitation ruling for two years, prompting the petitioners to file two motions on December 6, 2012, and January 3, 2013, to withdraw their appeal and manifest their desire to negotiate directly with its last two remaining major creditors, namely, PNB and Allied Bank.

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