COCKTALES | SM burrows deeper, sets takeover of Atlas mine from Ramos

Alfredo Ramos, seated at rightmost. File photograph means BUSINESS

The family of taipan Henry Sy is set to formally take over the struggling Atlas Mining from the Ramos family by the first quarter next year.

According to regulatory disclosures, SM Investments Corp. will subscribe to 90 percent of the new shares to be issued by Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp.,  with the family of Atlas chairman Alfredo Ramos of the National Book Store fame contending themselves to subscribing to just 10 percent of the new capital issuance.

In addition, SMIC has opted to acquire 96 percent of the 1:1 warrants to be issued also by the country's largest copper mining company to refinance Atlas' bank debts and shareholders advances into a subordinated loan with warrants.

To accommodate the expected fresh capital, Atlas will vote to increase its present P3 billion capitalization to P8.5 billion during a special shareholders' meeting on February 21.

Despite the impending takeover, Atlas said there was no plan to merge the company with any other group.

Ramos, now 72, first gained entry into the Atlas board in 1989 after a bitter takeover attempt against the then ruling Anscor/San Miguel Group, which finally ceded management control to him in 2001.

Ramos and his family owns slightly over 30 percent of Atlas.

SMIC on record owns slightly less, at 29.33 percent.

However, SMIC this year lent almost P6 billion to Atlas for the additional working capital of its subsidiary and traditional cash cow, Carmen Copper Corp.

The loan is payable in five years at 5 percent annual interest, subject to annual re-pricing.

Including SMIC's, the mining company owes over P30 billion in bonds and bank loans.
From P22.95 high in the first quarter of 2015, the Atlas share price steadily went downhill as the commodity boom turned into a bust, ending Friday, with commodity prices starting to rebound again, at P5 a piece.

Atlas said it had narrowed down its loss to P470 million in the last quarter from P1.3 billion in end-September 2015, thanks to higher production and the recovering metal prices.

It also scaled back capital expenditures for its Cebu mine and laid off 551 personnel, about 15 percent of its workforce.

The Atlas management, led by Ramos' son Adrian as president, also had to endure pay cuts, with the combined salaries of Adrian and four senior executives shrinking this year to P16.8 million, excluding bonuses, from P24.9 million in 2014.

Per diem for board directors for every meeting is a token P10,000.

And in a sign as to who actually controls the purse, Atlas earlier this year moved out of the Pioneer St. building of the Ramos family in Mandaluyong and transferred to the Sy-owned Five E-com Center beside the Mall of Asia.

Green Archer shoots down Olympic claim
The Olympic Village chain of sporting goods stores, represented by La Sallite and ex-Green Archer Juanito "Jay" Gervasio, has foiled an attempt by the International Olympic Committee to desist from using the Olympic Village name.

The trademark office has ruled that the local store chain, in business since 1994, is not a copycat as claimed by the international sports association, since the word Olympic has already become a generic term.

In addition, Gervasio was wise enough to use a name font and logo different from those used by the Olympics body.

Malacañang's hidden tanks
President Duterte may not be a full-time resident of Bahay Pangarap but that does not mean Malacañang stops being a  24-7, de facto hotel restaurant.

To give you a scale of how much cooking is needed in the Palace, the kitchen staff has just requisitioned for seventy, 50-kilo tanks of liquefied petroleum gas for the first quarter of 2017 alone.

That means Malacañang uses 280 big LPG tanks in a year. That's over 23 tanks in a month.

Heard through the grapevine
Just in case you're wondering why media and ad executive Babe Romualdez was featured in yesterday's issue of Philippine Star hosting a welcome dinner for the new American ambassador along with a clutch of Cabinet secretaries and top businessmen, it is because Romualdez has finally accepted the offer to become the country's next ambassador to Washington.

What is even interesting is that no less than PNoy-era Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario supposedly urged Romualdez to grab the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, before someone else lobbies you-know-who for the plum assignment.