RIZAL Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) is only one of 17 banks listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE). The others are, in alphabetical order, Asia United Bank, Bank of Philippine Islands, BDO Unibank, Chinabank, City State Bank, Export Bank, East West Bank, Metrobank, NextGenesis, PB Bank, PBCom, Philippine National Bank, Philippine Savings Bank, Philippine Trust, Security Bank, and Union Bank of the Philippines.
With the allegation of money laundering against RCBC which has yet to be proven, what is going to happen to the investments of the public in all these listed banks? It seems no one in government has even thought about this or even cares about what will happen to the public and their money invested in listed banks.
No one in government bothered to explain the implications of a serious crime such as money laundering on banks and other publicly traded stocks. Even the central bank has yet to tell investors how this would impact on the whole stock market and the banking sector in particular.
‘Bahala na kayo’
Government regulators seem to have simplified the policy for public investors to follow. Even if they are not talking about the adverse effect of the money laundering fiasco on the market as a whole, their message to local and foreigners alike, who place their money in tradable shares, has become clear; it is “caveat emptor,” or buyers beware. In Tagalog, the Latin phrase should assume a new but more apt meaning, which is “bahala na kayo.”
With this “bahala na” message, the public investors should learn never to rely on government for the protection of their investments. Since they decide on their choice of listed stocks, they are on their own in protecting their investments from unpredictable occurrences.
By the way, if sloganeering won a six-year comfortable life for the present temporary resident of Malacanan, by all means, let us adopt “to each his own” as the guiding motto for most Filipinos, excluding the members of the yellow tribe.
As a matter of fact, the government has yet to assess the potential damage of the alleged laundering of $81 million on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) and the companies listed on it. Does anyone even care at all about the stock market, which is supposed to mirror the confidence of foreigners in the country?
Of course, why should anything that affects the stock market bother government officials? After all, the public who own listed shares are not only rich but may even be very rich.
The Yuchengcos are not RCBC’s only significant stockholders. Although they own 580.3 million shares or 41.45 percent of the bank, making them the single biggest owner, they also have foreign partners. Cathay Life Insurance Co. Ltd. of Taiwan holds 281.87 million RCBC shares, or 20.13 percent, while International Finance Corp. (IFC) holds 107.88 million RCBC shares, or 7.71 percent.
Here is how IFC describes itself on its website: “IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector in developing countries.”
Really? The Philippines’ more than 100 million population must be told about the World Bank’s role in the country’s development efforts, if any.
How about the public? A public ownership report (POR) as of Dec. 31, 2015 listed 1.03 billion non-public RCBC shares, or 73.43 percent, and credited the public with 371.42 million RCBC shares, or 26.53 percent.
With their 26.53 percent ownership, the public would have been entitled to four if not five seats on the bank’s 15-person board. Unluckily for them, under the present setup, the majority stockholders appoint independent directors, thereby depriving the public of their right to elect their own nominees not only to the RCBC board but also to the boards of other listed companies.
So far, the allegations against RCBC by the central bank have not made much dent yet on the stock’s market performance. On Friday, RCBC shares opened at P32.70 against the previous day’s P32.65, rose to a high of P32.85, dropped to a low of P31.40 and closed trading at P31.70. It hit a 30-day high of P34.50 and fell to its month’s low of P31.40 on Friday.
By the way, for those who are in the market for dividend, the numbers posted on the PSE website are for their consumption. RCBC paid P0.80 per share dividend in 2011; P0.90 in 2012; P1 in 2013; and P0.60 in 2015. Since the bank distributed these dividends in May, is another one coming in May for 2016?