Gokongweis invest P1.25 B for a board seat in local Shakey’s chain

Published May 12, 2021, 4:22 PM

by James A. Loyola

The Gokongwei Group, through private investment firm JE Holdings, is infusing P1.25 billion into Shakey’s Pizza Asia Ventures Inc. (PIZZA) as a new strategic investor of the Po family-controlled food chain.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Shakey’s said that, beginning June of this year, JE Holdings will join the Po family’s private holding company Century Pacific Group and the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore as a top shareholder of the Company. 

JE Holdings is investing the P1.25 billion to acquire newly-issued shares, resulting in an approximately 9 percent ownership stake in PIZZA.

This equates to a purchase price of P8.20 per share – a 10 percent premium over the Company’s latest stock price and 14.6 percent higher than the latest 45-day volume weighted average.

“We look forward to the entry of the Gokongwei family and we in management are grateful for their belief in our business and our brands,” said PIZZA President and CEO Vicente Gregorio.

He added that, “Despite the short-term challenges, we too remain optimistic about our long-term prospects and, as result, have begun investing again in our stores, our people, and our various operating capabilities.”

“We believe that we are in a relatively good position financially and, with the added benefit of a new strategic investor, we plan to make the most of both the fresh round of capital and the various synergies that come along with partnering with the Gokongwei group of companies,” said Gregorio.

JE Holdings’ entry comes at a time of recovery in both PIZZA’s sales and profitability coming from lows experienced during the height of COVID-19 related lockdowns.

Nonetheless, following pick-up in mobility and structural adjustments to operations, the Company has now seen a reversion to positive bottomline and consistent cash generation despite continued uncertainty in the macro economic environment.  

During the Company’s stockholders’ meeting in July, Mr. Lance Gokongwei – Chairman and President of JE Holdings – will also be up for election as a member of the Company’s nine-seat Board of Directors.

Gokongwei said, “I’ve always been a fan of the Shakey’s brand and look forward to working with both the Board and management to further the Company’s growth and restart expansion plans in anticipation of the inevitable reopening of our economy.”

He added that, “I strongly believe in the long-term prospects of the food service industry, against a backdrop of rising Filipino incomes, and I have confidence that Shakey’s will continue to be a leader in this space.” 

“I support Lance’s election to our board as he brings with him a wealth of experience and a variety of perspectives stemming from his diversified set of business interests,” PIZZA Chairman Christopher Po, said.

Po added, “While our current balance sheet remains healthy, I look forward to further strengthening our financial position, with the new capital giving us additional flexibility at a time when many organic and inorganic opportunities have started to open up.”

“As we are now firmly on the path of recovery, our sights are set on growth and expansion, and I thank the Gokongwei family for their trust and confidence in our long-term plans. We are eager to welcome them into our wow-ing business and culture,” he noted.