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Gozon pisses off SMC’s Ramon Ang

Ramon S. Ang, or RSA, president and chief operating officer of San Miguel Corp., doesn’t want to talk about it if he can help it. The failed talks with media mogul and GMA Network chairman Inc. chairman Felipe Gozon have left a bad taste in RSA’s mouth.

RSA hast just asked the Department of Justice to prosecute Gozon and other executives of GMA Network for their alleged refusal to return P1 billion representing his downpayment for the partial acquisition of the network that did not materialize.

RSA complained that Gozon, one of the network’s owners, his family and several others should be held accountable for syndicated estafa, an offense for which bail is not allowed.

The RSA-Gozon tiff is centered on Gozon’s decision not to return immediately the P1-billion check paid by the San Miguel executive. Ang included in his complaint Anna Teresa Gozon-Abrogar and Ismael Augusto Gozon of FLG Management Corp; GMA stockholders Belinda Madrid, Maria Erlinda Gana, Jaime Javier Gana, Florencia Gozon Tarriela, Edgar Tarriela and Tricia Valderrama.

RSA in his complaint cited that the downpayment of PI billion should be “returned to the purchaser not later than three working days from the expiration of the exclusivity period without need of any further notice or demand,” if the negotiations were not concluded or finalized. “...there is no longer any basis for Felipe L. Gozon to retain custody of the money, and the same should be forthwith returned to the buyer,” RSA said.

Gozon has countered that his group wanted to retain the down payment to answer for the unliquidated and unspecified “claims” that his group plans to pursue against RSA.

RSA obviously fumed at the antics of the Gozon group. The Jimenez Group and the Duavit Group, the other major shareholders of GMA Network, have already agreed that the down payment should be returned at once to RSA.

“The position taken by the Gozon Group that there is no obligation to return, which is contrary to the position of its fellow sellers, is a shallow and baseless excuse for the respondents to hold on to the money and misappropriate the same,” RSA said in his complaint.

The San Miguel executive said he “did not agree that the downpayment could be used for any other purpose, much less as security to answer for any claims for damages which the Gozon Group would minded to make later on.” RSA alleged the Gozon Group “converted and misappropriated the P1 billion” buy refusing to return the money despite his demand.

“Assuming that the respondents have ‘causes of action’ or ‘claims for damages’ against the complainant, they cannot just take the law into their own hands and retain the complainant’s money to answer for such claims, for the simple reason that the money was not given to them for that purpose,” RSA said.

New conditions

The Gozon Group, meanwhile, claimed that the downpayment was intact and had not been used. “The Gozon Group has the right to retain it to answer for its claims for damages against Mr. Ang, among others for opportunity loss.... as Mr. Ang prevented the transaction from conclusion and closing, by his unilateral decision not to proceed with the transaction and his imposition of new conditions after the purchase contract was perfected on March 21, 2015.”

Ang, according to the network, walked away from negotiations to invest in GMA Network as early as March this year.

GMA vice president for corporate communications Angela Javier Cruz earlier said in a statement Ang “already walked away and informed sellers [on March 26] that he is no longer proceeding with the transaction on grounds of alleged material changes on the company which are not valid and not borne by the facts and recent financial reports of the company.”

Cruz added Ang informed the major shareholders—the Jimenez, Duavit and Gozon groups, which own a combined 79 percent of GMA Network—on May 18 that he does not accept the deed of absolute sale and proposed new matters and terms.

RSA had a different version. He accused the owners of GMA Network of abruptly terminating the plan to sell a minority stake in the broadcast company while talks were ongoing.

But what prompted RSA to allegedly walk away from the talks and raise new issues in the negotiations? Sources said GMA Network executives declined to give him critical information and data that could “materially” affect the financials being discussed in the talks. RSA, according to one source, had inquired on the executive compensation structure, retrenchment plan, and marketing contracts with talents and consultants, which the broadcasting company declined to furnish.

 

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