COCKTALES | Malaysian takeover of Bank of Commerce stalls on pricing issues means BUSINESS

The Malaysian takeover of the Bank of Commerce has stalled on pricing issues, according to industry sources, with the CIMB Group seeking a new acquisition price lower than the P181.25 a share that it had announced in early May 2012.

The CIMB itself had already adverted to the delay, when various Malaysian news outlets late last month reported CIMB Group chief executive Datuk Seri Nazir Razak as saying that Malaysia's second largest bank was still in the "negotiation process of acquiring the Bank of Commerce."

This was in contrast with the almost conclusive tone of its May 8, 2012 announcement that "CIMB Group Acquires Bank of Commerce," even quoting a P181.25 a share or about P12.2 billion in exchange for the San Miguel Group giving up 60 percent control of the local bank.

According to a source familiar with the negotiations, CIMB is now asking for a 10 percent discount from the original five percent that it had wanted shaved from the announced price, a concession that San Miguel president Ramon S. Ang is still mulling over.

In any case, Ang had disclosed way back in September that investment banker Simon Paterno was the nominee president of the Malaysian group.

In addition, the CIMB Group had planned to bring in three Malaysian expatriates to head branch banking, corporate banking and controllership, according to a bank official, aside from nominating Ramos-era Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo as chairman.

De Ocampo, who had to resign his directorship with the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp during the yearend because of his planned installation by the Malaysians as Bank of Commerce chairman, was unavailable for comment.

SMC wins battle to sell Magnolia in US

And speaking of San Miguel, the country's largest conglomerate has won the right to continue distributing and selling Magnolia butter, margarine and cheese products in the United States.

San Miguel subsidiary Pure Foods obtained a favorable ruling from Los Angeles Central District Court early this month on the trademark suit brought upon it by Ramar, a Filipino-American food manufacturer that beat San Miguel in registering the Magnolia trademark in the US for Ramar's ice cream and meat products.

The court noted that Pure Foods had begun selling the disputed Magnolia products throughout the US in 2004, but that Ramar only instituted the legal action in 2011, way beyond the four-year statute of limitations for trademark infringement.

Earlier, a jury found that San Miguel had not willfully infringed on Ramar's Magnolia mark and that Ramar had suffered no damage since the California firm had never ventured into butter, margarine and cheese products.

Still, the order of Judge R. Gary Klausner prohibited San Miguel Pure Foods from introducing additional Magnolia food lines into the US market.


o The trademark infringement case filed by owners Regina and Rafael Vinzon of Cocoon Hotel of Quezon City against Ayala Hotels will be withdrawn this week, with Ayala already having changed the name of its new boutique hotel chain from Kukun to Seda.

o In addition to Wilma Galvante, another retired GMA7 executive, Manuel Quiogue, is set to join the TV5 Group, most likely through MediaQuest Holdings. According to the industry grapevine, the former president of GMA Marketing only needs to iron out a "few minor details" with TV5/Mediaquest president Ray Espinosa. 

o It may be more fun in the Philippines, but the country's lodging costs are getting pointedly more expensive than those of the regional neighbors', using the Shangri-La room index. The average transient room rate for a local Shangri-La in 2012 was $200 a night, as against $156 for the same Shangri-la room in Thailand and $144 in Malaysia.

Heard through the grapevine 

An intermediary of retired polo player Ricardo Silverio Jr. sent two photos of Silverio taken during his recent birthday party showing the latter hale and hearty, having just been discharged with a clean bill of health after a long hospital confinement in Texas. The clarification was made amid Friday's item in this space that alleged Silverio was "seriously sick."