BUSINESS  NEWS IN BRIEF:  P/$ RATE CLOSES AT P51.875 TO THE US$

MANILA, February 23, 2006
 (BULLETIN) The peso rate closed lower P51.875 to the US dollar yesterday at the Philippine Dealing System of the Bankers Association of the Philippines from P51.83 the previous day. The weighted average rate appreciated to P51.734 from P51.959. Total volume amounted 3 million.

4 RP banks get ‘Stable’ rating

Fitch Ratings said it has revised the outlook on the long-term ratings of four Philippine banks to stable from negative, following a similar change it recently made to the outlook on the sovereign ratings. In a statement, Fitch said it also affirmed all its ratings on the banks as follows: Security Bank Corp.: long-term foreign currency, ‘BB’; short-term foreign currency, ‘B’; long-term local currency, ‘BB’; individual ‘D’; support ‘4’; Equitable PCI Bank: long-term foreign currency, ‘BB’; short-term foreign current, ‘B’; individual, ‘D’; support, ‘3’; Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co.: long-term foreign currency, ‘BB-’; short-term foreign currency, ‘B’; individual, ‘D/E’; support, ‘3’; Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.: long-term foreign currency, ‘BB-’; long-term local currency, ‘BB-’; individual ‘D/E’; support ‘3’.

BDO GDR issue hits 5 M

Banco de Oro Universal Bank (BDO) and SM Investments Corporation announced that on February 14, 2006, Macquarie Bank Limited (Macquarie) served a notice to Primebridge Holdings, Inc. (Primebridge) that Macquarie will exercise its option to acquire all the 1,181,000 additional BDO Global Depositary Receipts (GDR) granted to it pursuant to BDO’s GDR offering. Since being priced at .70 on January 19, the BDO GDRs have appreciated in price by approximately 4.3 percent to trade at .25 as of February 20. With the exercise of the over- allotment option in full by Macquarie, the total GDR issue size has increased to 5,000,000.

Atlas selling debt for M

Atlas Consolidated Mining & Development Corp. said yesterday it has agreed to sell a portion of its debt for million, which is convertible into Atlas common shares, to an investment fund called Crescent Asian Special Opportunities Portfolio. The investment fund, which comprises "a group of international investors whose funds collectively exceed billion," will also inject million into Carmen Copper Corp., a 100 percent owned subsidiary of Atlas that will own the latter’s Toledo copper mining operations in the central province of Cebu. Atlas is planning an initial public offering for Carmen Copper later this year. In a statement to the stock exchange, Atlas said the deal with the investor group is still subject to final due diligence work. Atlas said the equity injection into Carmen will come in two tranches: A million convertible bond up front, and a million subscription for new shares upon finalization of a senior debt instrument and off-take agreement for the copper project. The proceeds from the convertible bond will initially be used to get the water out of the mine in preparation for rehabilitation. The million equity infusion may earn the investors around 34 percent of Carmen Copper Corp., Atlas said. "This equity infusion is designed to improve Carmen’s valuation during our [initial public offering] later this year, as the project will be at an advanced stage once shares are offered to the public," Atlas president and chairman Alfredo Ramos said.

EIB trading resumes today

The trading suspension on the shares of Export and Industry Bank (Exportbank) will be lifted today, the stock exchange said in a note to brokers. The exchange has suspended trading on Exportbank shares since Jan. 2 upon the request of the bank to avoid undue speculation on the stock price following a transaction involving an additional P3 billion capital infusion by its major stockholders.

Ginebra pays cash dividend

Distiller Ginebra San Miguel Inc. said its board has approved a cash dividend of P0.375 a share to shareholders on record as of March 10. Payment is set for April 3. Ginebra San Miguel is 79.6 percent owned by food and beverage conglomerate San Miguel Corp.

Megaworld plans int’l offering

Megaworld Corp. yesterday said it plans an international offering of new common shares, as the Philippine property holding concern moves to raise fresh funds for existing and new projects. "In connection with the international offering, Megaworld’s board of directors has authorized the issuance of up to 3.5 billion shares of common stock from the un-issued portion of Megaworld’s authorized capital," the company said in a disclosure to the stock exchange. Megaworld said the overseas stock offer is also aimed at expanding the company’s shareholder base to include institutional investors.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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