By Arra B. Francia, August 13 2019; Business World

https://www.bworldonline.com/sec-eases-up-on-timetable-for-mpo-hike/

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THE Securities And Exchange Commission (SEC) has tweaked its plan to increase listed firms’ minimum public ownership (MPO) by raising the range while allowing them to propose their own timetable to hit the steeper requirement by a government deadline.

SEC Commissioner Ephyro Luis B. Amatong said corporate regulators are now looking at a 20-25% MPO, against the earlier 15-20% prospective range.

“The ASEAN standard is 25%… and there’s initial feedback since some companies in their initial offering actually go straight to 40%,” Mr. Amatong told reporters last week, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Mr. Amatong said the SEC might allow companies to propose their own timetables to reach the 25% public float, instead of imposing a uniform deadline on all.

“Rather than order companies to hit 15% within three years, then another two years for the 20% — which is what the commission presented before — right now we don’t care how you do it, as long as within five years, you’ll have 25%,” Mr. Amatong said in a mix of Filipino and English.

The SEC had said that 68 listed firms would be affected once the MPO increase is implemented. Of this complement, 39 have a public float of less than 15%.

The Philippine Stock Exchange, Inc. has said that majority of the bourse’s 264 companies already have 45-47% public floats.

Four of the 30 PSEi-member firms currently have a public float of less than 25%, namely: Aboitiz Power Corp. with 19.15%; Globe Telecom, Inc. with 21.65%; Manila Electric Co. with 20.98%; and San Miguel Corp. with 15.94%.

Mr. Amatong said San Miguel has assured corporate regulators that it can raise its public float as soon as the commission finalizes the rules.

He added that companies should not have any issue with increasing the public float given current liquidity in the market, as well as positive prospects for the Philippine Stock Exchange index.

The SEC in 2017 raised the MPO of companies seeking to conduct an initial public offering to 20% from the current floor of 10%. Listed firms, however, still adhere to the 10% requirement, which has been in place since 2011.

Mr. Amatong declined to say when the SEC will finally release the guidelines for the public float increase, explaining that the commission still has several other draft rules on its plate. These include guidelines for real estate investments trusts, which it committed to release next month, and rules on digital asset exchanges.

“The long-term view is the economy is good, inflation is easing, the central bank has cut interest rates and reduced the reserve requirement, so this should be a good time to impose the rules,” Mr. Amatong said. — Arra B. Francia

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