Jun 052013

MANILA, Philippines – National carrier PAL Holdings Inc., partly-owned by conglormerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC), will remain a listed company, its top executive said.

PAL, Asia’s oldest airline, is preparing a share sale through Philippine National Bank (PNB), president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said.

“I think we will comply [with the public float rule],” he said.

“That is what our partner wants, to keep it listed,” Ang said, adding that the share sale will be facilitated by PNB, which is owned by PAL’s controlling shareholder, taipan Lucio Tan.

In January, the Philippine Stock Exchange suspended the trading of seven firms including PAL due to their failure to meet the required minimum public ownership level of 10 percent. To date, PAL has a public float of just 0.55 percent.

The PSE said listed firms that fail to increase their public ownership level to at least 10 percent will have their shares delisted starting June 30, 2013.

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In May last year, diversifying conglomerate SMC bought a 49-percent stake in PAL for about $500 million. SMC also gained management control of the airline.

Since the entry of SMC last year, PAL has embarked on a massive re-fleeting program aimed at acquiring 100 new aircraft to replace its existing fleet. It expects to save as much as $400 million from fuel and maintenance costs per year as part of its re-fleeting program.

Meanwhile, Ang said SMC is still pursuing plans to put up a $6-billion international airport.

“I think within five years we need a new airport because existing airports are congested already,” Ang said.

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