Calata still hopeful it can avoid delisting from PSE

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By Arra B. Francia, Reporter

CALATA Corp. is still hoping to avoid being delisted from the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), amid ongoing involuntary delisting procedures against the agribusiness firm.

Calata Chairman Joseph H. Calata said the company’s lawyers are in constant communication with the PSE as the hearings are ongoing.

Nasa hearing stage pa naman kami, hindi pa naman kami delisted. Sinasabi namin mga points namin kung bakit hindi kami dapat i-delist. Hopefully di siya ma-delist,” he told BusinessWorld at the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Business Awards last week.

The PSE last July initiated involuntary delisting procedures against Calata due to repeated violations of disclosure rules. The PSE cited 29 violations of Section 13.1 of the PSE Disclosure Rules from Nov. 29, 2016 to June 20, as well as 26 violations of Section 13.2 of the same rules from Oct. 6, 2016 to March 16 and from April 26 to May 2.

Aside from failing to timely disclose the disposition of shares by company’s directors and principal officers, the PSE also found Calata to have violated the blackout rule, which prohibits directors and principal officers who have obtained material non-public information to trade their company’s shares within a prescribed period.

Asked why the company failed to comply with the bourse’s disclosure rules, Mr. Calata blamed this on office errors.

“Violation ay non-disclosure. Let’s see kung ano decision nila dun. Office error yun, na parang lapse lang sa system, parang miscommunication,” Mr. Calata said.

The company is currently undertaking steps should the bourse proceed with its delisting. Earlier this August, Calata announced its sale of a total of 2.5 billion shares or 81% of the firm to listed Millennium Global Holdings, Inc., through the increase in its authorized capital stock by up to 10 billion common shares.

MGHI’s subsidiary Millennium Ocean Star Corp. is an exporter and importer of seafood and aquaculture products that began in Hong Kong before establishing a major plant in Cebu City. Its capacity stands at 2,000 metric tons of imported seafood products each month for local distribution. 

Mr. Calata explained the deal with Millennium Global will ensure that the company’s shareholders would still have tradable stocks, albeit for a different company, in case the delisting process continues. 

“So we think na sa paggawa ng deal namin with Millennium (MGHI), we could pass yung mga shareholders namin sa mas malaking company rather than ma-delist. Then pag ma-delist ka yung mga shares ng mga shareholders natin, di siya magiging tradeable, so the move na bilhin kami ng isang malaking seafood company pero ang potential ay bigger dahil worldwide na ang operation nila,” he said.

Mr. Calata further noted this would be a “sacrifice” on their part for the benefit of the shareholders.

The deal with MGHI would require shareholders’ approval during Calata’s annual meeting. However, Calata had rescheduled its Oct. 2 annual stockholders’ meeting to a later date within 2017.

Meanwhile, Calata’s agriculture business would be privatized through the transfer of all its assets and liabilities to Agriphil Corp. and/or a private firm. 

“What we’re planning is our company is mag-paprivatize na. Yun yung direction upon approval ng shareholders sa annual stockholders,” Mr. Calata said.

Trading of shares in Calata has been suspended since June 30 following the violations of disclosure rules and the subsequent delisting procedures.