Welcome news for the investing public

By Francis Lim
25 May 2017  |   Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Supreme Court affirmed with finality its decision dated Nov. 22, 2016 in “Roy v. Herbosa, et. al.” which declared SEC Memorandum Circular No. 8 or the “Guidelines on Compliance with the Filipino-Foreign Ownership Requirements Prescribed in the Constitution and/or Existing Laws by Corporations Engaged in Nationalized and Partly Nationalized Activities,” valid and consistent with its decision and resolution in “Gamboa v. Teves.”

This decision laid to rest the saga of the conflicting interpretations of the term “capital” under Sec. 11, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, and definitively ruled that the same referred only to shares of stock entitled to vote in the election of directors. This also refuted the restrictive interpretation of the term “capital” by my friend, Judd Roy, who claimed that the percentage of Filipino ownership must be applied to each class of shares, regardless of privileges and restrictions.

This is welcome news not only to the legal community but also to the stock market and the investing public who invested their money in corporations engaged in nationalized and partly nationalized activities, which the Supreme Court considered indispensable parties since they were to be directly affected by the resolution of this case.

I find it noteworthy that the Supreme Court, instead of adopting a purely legalistic approach, considered the practical implications of the issue. The high court considered that applying the “restrictive interpretation” to corporations engaged in nationalized and partly nationalized activities will result in massive involuntary divestment of foreign stockholdings in affected corporations which will have tremendous impact on the stock market, and to the Philippine economy as a whole.

The Supreme Court gave credence to the position of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) that if the “effective control test” were to be applied, the value of the shares that would be deemed in excess of the foreign-ownership limits based on stock prices at that time (30 April 2014) was about P160 billion, which had to be absorbed by the Filipino shareholders. As a consequence thereof, this may have resulted in dire financial difficulties for the affected companies, or worse, their shutdown.

The high court also gave credence to the undisputed submission of the Shareholders Association of the Philippines (Sharephil) that in five corporations alone, more than P158 billion worth of shares must be divested by foreign shareholders if petitioner’s restrictive interpretation were to be adopted.

The author, formerly president and chief executive officer of the Philippine Stock Exchange, is now a senior partner of the Angara Abello Concepcion & Regala Law Offices and president of the Shareholders’ Association of the Philippines. The views in this column are exclusively his. He can be contacted through francis.ed.lim@gmail.com

Original URL Link: https://business.inquirer.net/230105/welcome-news-investing-public

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