A new twist apparently manufactured in the dirty tricks department of the tenacious demonizers of the Malampaya transactions claimed that up to $187 million was advanced to Chevron Corp. by the Udenna Group to corner the purchase of an initial 45 percent of the natural gas consortium.
The cock-and-bull story indicated that the money was paid even before the $565 million sale was transacted, meaning there was a conspiracy involving the oil giants to hand over to Udenna the 90 percent controlling stake in the project.
In a briefing, Udenna Corp. President Raymundo Martin Escalona said the heist worthy of a movie script and which will be the agenda of the Blue Ribbon Committee when it takes over the probe of the $1 billion private deal is an impossible maneuver.
“They said that even prior to closing the Chevron deal, that we (Udenna Group) already took money out from the Chevron space to pay for the transaction cost of that transaction, that’s absolutely not true,” Escalona said.
Responsible organizations, in which the transnationals Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell fall into, practice a lock-up period on the assets of a company prior to a shares transfer.
“It’s a very complex transaction and if you’re familiar with corporate finance, there’s a lock-box where prior to any financial closing, all of the free cash of the company are placed in safekeeping prior to any finalization of a pending shares sale transaction. Certainly, Udenna would not have any access to that until financial closing,” Escalona noted.
The supposed cash advance was intended to prop the argument that the Udenna Group is heavily leveraged and used a lot of influence in clinching the deals with Chevron and Shell.
The divestment of Chevron shares in Malampaya, according to Escalona, was firmed up on 25 October 2019 and shares were transferred on 11 March 2020. Udenna’s purchase was made through a combination of direct capital of $40 million and shareholder loans of $136 million.
Much later, Escalona said the loans were converted to shareholdings, indicating that the lender had full confidence in the future of the project.
Paid-up capital of UC Malampaya totals $176 million, which is registered with the business registry in Singapore, according to Escalona, to debunk another claim that the buyer of the Chevron shares is woefully capitalized.
Escalona said the detractors can examine documents certified by the Philippine Consulate in Singapore, and the papers were also provided to relevant authorities, including the Senate Energy panel probing the Malampaya deals.
Of course, the Senate probers as is their wont are blind to rationality since their sight is already fixed on a partisan agenda.
Escalona explained of the $460 million purchase of 45 percent equity of Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX), which is another target of the coming Senate Blue Ribbon inquiry, Malampaya Energy’s capitalization was not $100 but $15 million and was registered in Singapore.
The “$100, which was being used against us, was the initial sum paid to the register when we established the newly formed Malampaya Energy XP in Singapore; ahead of the Shell transaction.”
The Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations is composed predominantly of senators angling for reelection next year, which is an indicator of the vicious character of the set proceedings.