SUGAR refiner Victorias Milling Corp. (VMC) said it has bought out three of its minority shareholders affiliated with Hong Kong-listed First Pacific Group.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Tuesday, the sugar company said its board of directors has repurchased some 365 million shares held by First Agri Holdings Corp., Hargate Investments Ltd. and Nestar Investments Ltd. at P5 apiece or for a total amount of P1.82 billion.
The repurchased shares are equivalent to about 12.5 percent of the company’s outstanding shares.
VMC, the country’s largest sugar producer, asked for a voluntary trading halt on Monday as a result of the said board decision. Its shares resumed trading on Tuesday morning.
The company bought back the shares at a 10 percent premium to its previous close of P4.55 per share.
First Agri is an affiliate of First Pacific, which in 2013 ventured into the country’s agriculture industry, while Hargate and Nestar are owned by FP Natural Resources Ltd., also an affiliate of First Pacific.
“Management believes that the stock repurchase will enhance shareholder value.
Effectively, the company will be increasing earnings per share to about 42 cents [centavos]from 34 cents [centavos],” the company said in a statement.
The company, which is still in corporate rehabilitation, embarked three years ago on a program to prepay all its monetary obligations under a rehabilitation plan approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“The stock repurchase sends a strong signal that management believes that the future of the company continues to be bright, so much so that it is willing to invest in itself,” it said.
To date, Lucio Tan’s LT Group Inc. owns nearly a fifth of the company while Premier Network International Ltd. owns 25.8 percent and Narra Capital Investment Corp. owns 15.1 percent.
For its fiscal first quarter ending November 2015, Victorias Milling reported a net income of P292.18 million, higher than the P266.27 million recorded in the same period the previous year.
Victorias Milling is engaged in the business of integrated raw and refined sugar manufacturing with plants in Victorias City, Negros Occidental.