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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Reverse colonialism and corporate takeovers

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STARTING from the 1400s, Western powers established colonies in Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas mostly for economic gain. The first of these global empires was that of Portugal, which outlasted all others and survived for almost 600 years until 1999 when it handed over Macao to China.

In a reversal of fortunes, some of those former subjects are gradually taking over the economies of their previous masters. England is filling up with people from its erstwhile colonies in the British Commonwealth, while France now has a large population of Muslim immigrants from its African territories.

Even in the corporate world, reverse colonialism is rising. Among the classic examples are Filipino-owned Emperador Distillers Inc., the buyer of iconic Spanish brandy maker Fundador; Filipino multinational Del Monte Pacific Ltd., which acquired its century-old American parent company Del Monte Foods; and, Indian conglomerate Tata Group’s flagship firm Tata Motors Ltd. that has purchased venerable English automobile brands Jaguar and Land Rover.

The latest to ride the reverse colonial acquisition wave is Manila-based HatchAsia Inc., with its recent takeover of Sydney-domiciled casino operator Silver Heritage Group Ltd. Listed in the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), Silver Heritage used to manage The Millionaire’s Club and the Tiger Palace Resort in Nepal as well as the Phoenix International Club in Vietnam.

HatchAsia is an affiliate of Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE)-listed DFNN Inc., the first company to receive a license from state-run regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to offer domestic online gaming services under Pagcor’s new Pigo or “Philippine inshore gaming operator” scheme.

Replacing Silver Heritage’s former CEO Mike Bolsover, Chairman Matthew Hunter and Director Darryl Kaplan in the new board were HatchAsia President Kirk Arambulo, DFNN Executive Director Ramon Garcia Jr. and International Container Terminal Services Inc. (Ictsi) CFO Rafael Jose Consing Jr.

Ictsi is the Philippines’s global ports industry giant owned by billionaire Enrique Razon Jr., who is also the CEO of Bloomberry Resorts Corp., which operates Solaire Resort and Casino in Manila’s Entertainment City. Both ICTSI and Bloomberry are listed in the PSE.

The completion of HatchAsia’s takeover came eight months after Silver Heritage entered voluntary administration following the emergence of Covid-19 and the forced closure of its Nepalese facilities. It was then subject to a takeover offer from HatchAsia that was seen to acquire 92 percent of Silver Heritage’s issued share capital by injecting funds worth AUD530,000 and issuing new shares for the equivalent value. This was subsequently confirmed through an ASX filing last month.

Now that the administrators of Silver Heritage have handed control to HatchAsia, the latter will start infusing assets and recapitalize the company in preparation for the lifting of its voluntary trading suspension—paving the way for the first Filipino company to be publicly listed in the Australian stock market.

Another DFNN affiliate and investee firm, iWave Inc., has entered into an implementation agreement to list in the Singapore Stock Exchange also through the backdoor. This is via a reverse takeover of SGX-listed China Sky Fiber Co. Ltd.

Wholly-owned subsidiary iWave Advanced Research Group was recently granted an exclusive license to operate the Global Trade Exchange (GTX) in the Freeport Area of Bataan (FAB).

GTX is a platform that enables the cross-border trading and exchange of digital assets between international investors. Its authority includes the ability to perform capital market functions such as futures, commodities, and derivatives catering to foreign registered entities beginning in the second quarter of 2021. This would allow fast-tracked residency processing and business registration under FAB’s tax-free environment.

Indeed, Filipino enterprises are on track to compete in the global stage despite the pandemic-induced economic crisis. Some of them will soon join the ranks of SM, Ayala, and JG Summit groups as Philippine companies that have met international standards and are widely recognized overseas.

Joseph Gamboa is the co-chairman of the Finex Annual Conferences for 2020-2021, chairman of the Finex Business Columns Subcommittee and director of Noble Asia Industrial Corp. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of these institutions and the BusinessMirror.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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