CLI’s push ‘may inspire strong VisMin companies to go public’

Jeandie O. Galolo

SEEING companies in Cebu as well as in the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao that are capable of going public, a bank executive expects more companies to follow in the footsteps of Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI).

BPI Capital and Investments Corp. senior managing director Reginaldo Cariaso said he is meeting with some companies from the Visayas and Mindanao to discuss their prospects for an initial public offering (IPO).

“There are very strong companies in VisMin. We met with a few of them, and I think that if they go (for an IPO) they will be successful. Some of them are much bigger than what you would think,” he said in an interview last Thursday at the sidelines of CLI’s Cebu investors’ roadshow at the Cebu City Marriott Hotel.

Cariaso said that these companies, which he preferred not to disclose, are largely involved in consumer goods and retail, as well as manufacturing.

In November 2015, the homegrown Metro Retail Stores Group Inc. (MRSGI), locally referred to as Gaisano Metro, made its debut in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE). MRSGI is the largest operator of department stores and hypermarkets in the Visayas region, as well as the second largest supermarket operator, according to retail sales value, according to Euromonitor in 2014.

However, Cariaso said there are also some concerns that VisMin companies face in their decision to proceed with an IPO.

“It takes a lot of work. Most of the companies are family businesses,” he said.

When one decides to apply for an IPO, company transparency is one of the first and most essential requirements. “Being able to deal with shareholders who will have a say on their business and strategies (is another challenge). Some companies are not prepared to do that,” Cariaso said.

However, there are also companies willing to take the risk in the name of being a sustainable business. There are over 200 companies listed in the PSE. Two of the biggest, whose founders traced their first business ventures to Cebu, are Aboitiz Equity Ventures and the Gokongwei s’ JG Summit Holdings.