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‘Di lang voting rights! Ayalas open to EKR taking bigger stake, full control of Manila Water

The Ayalas are now willing to take the backseat in Manila Water Co. and allow bilyonaryo Enrique “Ricky” K. Razon to take the driver’s seat of the global utility firm.

A Babbler said the Ayalas have agreed to let Trident Water (initially Prime Infra) of Razon, the “white knight” who saved the Ayalas from President Rodrigo Duterte’s wrath, increase its stake to have full control of Manila Water.

In the blockbuster P10.66 billion deal announced in March 2020, Razon would acquire 25 percent of MWC but with majority control through the 51 percent voting rights (via the Ayala-controlled Philwater Holdings) ceded to him.

Under the deal, the Ayalas would remain as the single biggest stockholder in Manila Water with 26 percent, diluted from 41 percent with the issuance of shares to Razon. Philwater will have 12 percent interest in Manila Water following Razon’s entry.

“Razon can buy as much as he wants from the market and add more to the 820 million shares he already owns,” according to the Babbler.

Razon bought 820 million MWC shares at P13 each in the deal. MWC last traded at P16.86, more than doable its 52-week low of P8.10. The public holds roughly 35 percent of Manila Water’s shares.

“The Ayalas are not walking away but just letting Razon take control of the corporation. The Ayalas will continue to own the common shares it currently holds,” the source added.

After getting the nod of the Philippines Competition Commission, Manila Water is awating approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission for the increase in its authorized capital stock from P3.5 billion to P4.4 billion.

Manila Water said Razon’s capital infusion would be used to enhance its services in the east concession area and his group’s expansive global reach and business expertise would spur the utility company’s foreign expansion.

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