Filipino financial regulator issues new guidelines to calm investor fears

17 Jan 2013

The Manila Standard Today reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the Philippines has reconsidered its classification of foreign ownership of domestic utilities, and in so doing appeased foreign investors, which earlier issued threats to abandon the country altogether. The paper quotes Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) regulatory and policy affairs chief Ray Espinosa as saying that institutional investors were anxious about how foreign ownership in various partially nationalised companies would be measured.

As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, earlier this week global investment group Lazard Asset Management, which has around USD1 billion worth of funds invested in the Philippines, threatened to exit the country if the SEC forged ahead with its plan to revise foreign ownership rules. Lazard, a major shareholder in PLDT, expressed concerns over a plan from the SEC to implement a 60:40 ownership rule in favour of Filipino-domiciled investors for ‘every class of share’. However, the financial watchdog has apparently announced it is formulating new guidelines on foreign ownership, hinting that it would be easy to implement. SEC chairman Teresita Herbosa said: ‘The SEC will now come up with rules that lessen conflict and controversy. One that is acceptable to all but we also address the need for foreign capital to come in and we have to weigh all consideration[s]’.