Gatchalian flags Udenna's buying spree

Asia's Tech News Daily

SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian raised concerns over Udenna Corp.’s financial capacity in acquiring the stake of Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX) in the Malampaya gas field, after subsidiary PH Resorts Group Holdings Inc. suspended its casino project in Clark due to debt and cash problems.

“This is a red flag. How can we trust a company heavily in debt? First, the acquisition of Udenna Corp. unit of Chevron’s 45 percent stake in Malampaya was largely financed by loans. Now, Udenna wants to have the operating interests by acquiring Shell’s stake,” Gatchalian said.

He further pointed out that “Malampaya is no ordinary asset. We have to make sure that any transaction should go through a thorough review and due diligence by the government to assure the Filipino people that whoever is going to step in is highly qualified, competent and can deliver electricity.”

Malampaya currently supplies close to about 26 percent of the power needs in Luzon or about 3.7 million households.

In a Senate hearing last July, Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC) president and chief executive officer Rozzano Briguez told the committee that $375 million of the $565-million cost to acquire the stake Chevron to UC Malampaya Philippines Pte. Ltd., a unit of Udenna Corp., was done through loans from three major banks and the remaining amount of $157 million was sourced through the gas field’s “net entitlements” while $33 million came from the buyer’s stock issuance.

PNOC-EC has a 10-percent stake in the Malampaya project.

In May this year, Shell Petroleum NV signed an agreement with Malampaya Energy XP Pte Ltd., a subsidiary of Udenna Corp., for the sale of its 100-percent shareholding in SPEX.

Reports said that foreign banks will finance Uy’s acquisition of SPEX, which are allegedly the same set of lenders in Udenna’s takeover of Chevron stake worth $565 million that was closed in March 2020.

Also, reports said that PH Resort Group has a capital deficit of P1.2 billion and its net liabilities have increased to over P7.2 billion as of June and that its biggest creditor, China Banking, gave Uy until Sept. 14, 2021 to agree on a bailout of its P5.9- billion loans after three extensions.

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