, April 11, 2005
 (STAR) By Ted P. Torres - While awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision on Banco de Oro Universal Bank’s (BdO) proposed acquisition of common shares of Equitable PCI Bank held by the Social Security System (SSS), the Henry Sy conglomerate has kept itself busy by acquiring shares of China Banking Corp. (China Bank).

Sources said the retail and mall magnate has acquired enough shares to gain majority control of China Bank.

The SM Group controls BdO, which entered into a deal with the SSS to acquire nearly 30 percent of Equitable Bank. It was however blocked by interest groups and the case remains pending in the sala of the country’s highest tribunal.

Based on data obtained from the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), total shareholdings of the Sy group has reached 69.5 percent, surpassing the equity position of the Dee family which has been in control of China Bank.

Last month, Henry Sy’s shareholdings was placed at 11.701 million common shares or roughly 32 percent of the bank’s total shares, from 5.5 percent at the start of the year.

Sysmart Corp., another company controlled by Henry Sy, also acquired a sizable number of shares in the same period. It reportedly acquired 130 shares last month at P675 per share, bringing its total holdings to 20.732 percent. Thus, the combined holdings of Sy and Sysmart stood at 52.753 percent.

A closer look at PSE data also revealed that newly-listed SM Investments Corp., Shoe Mart Inc., and SM Development Corp., all of which are owned and controlled by Henry Sy, are also China Bank shareholders.

SM Investments owns 4.9 percent, Shoe Mart 6.737 percent and SM Development 0.406 percent.

The Dees had 4.055 percent outstanding ownership in China Bank as of Feb. 28, 2005. This is broken down to 2.402 percent under the name of Joaquin Dee and/or family; 0.621 percent owned by Domingo T. Dee.

Gilbert U. Dee owns 0.587 percent and Regina Y. Dee controls 0.445 percent.

Another significant shareholders is International China Banking Corp. which holds a 8.079 percent stake.

Also last month, BdO held talks with officers of the Export and Industry Bank (EIB) in the hope of acquiring the medium-sized commercial bank. An executive overview was undertaken including exploratory talks in the presence of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC).

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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