San Miguel sells US$ 1 billion stake in Philippine Airlines

16 Sep 2014 by Clement Huang

Lucio Tan, the Philippines' second-richest man after Henry Sy, will regain full control of Philippine Airlines (PAL) by buying back a 49% stake from San Miguel Corp., in a deal reportedly worth “more than US$1 billion.”

The Filipino-Chinese tycoon, who owns LT Group, is to take back the stake he sold to San Miguel two years ago at US$ 500 million, according to disclosure statements filed with the stock exchange that did not disclose the price.

"The two biggest stockholders of Philippine Airlines... signed a joint agreement whereby (San Miguel Corp.) expressed willingness to sell its 49% stake to the group of Dr Lucio Tan," a San Miguel statement said.

PAL Holdings, the airline's holding company, issued a similar statement.

The move had been anticipated for some time, but isn’t necessarily welcome news to many in the country. Local Philippine media is full of reports suggesting LT Group was only in it for the money and that the sell-back will be a step back in PAL’s thus-far-successful restructuring mission started in 2012, with San Miguel at the helm.

PAL has had some good progress to show for itself in the past two years. The flag carrier renewed large parts of its fleet and started its first service to Europe after five years of hiatus as the result of an EU-imposed ban on all Philippine-based airlines.

The carrier has recently announced its return to New York’s JFK with four-weekly services connecting it with Manila’s Ninoy Aquino from March 15, 2015.

PAL’s president Ramon Ang has also recently revealed that his carrier is eyeing Miami, San Diego and Chicago as possible new destinations in the US. He also said PAL is planning to increase frequencies to its current US ports of Honolulu, Guam, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

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Dominic Sebastian Lalk

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