UPDATE 1-San Miguel to sell up to $183 mln of Pure Foods shares

Mon Nov 12, 2012 4:41am EST

* Pricing set for Nov. 19 after roadshow

* Share sale to comply with free-float rule

MANILA, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Philippine conglomerate San Miguel Corp will sell up to 7.5 billion pesos ($183 million) worth of secondary shares in its food unit at a steep discount to the current market price to raise San Miguel Pure Foods' public float.

Pure Foods shares will be sold in a range of 240-300 pesos each, less than half of the current share price of 700 pesos, an official of Maybank Kim Eng, one of the firm's underwriters, said at an investors' briefing.

The sale is aimed at increasing Pure Foods' public float to up to 15 percent from the current 0.08 percent, and meet a yearend deadline by the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) to comply with a 10 percent minimum public ownership requirement.

"Pricing will be done on Monday (Nov. 19) after a roadshow in Hong Kong and Singapore," San Miguel Pure Foods President Francisco Alejo told reporters.

Standard Chartered and UBS are also handling the deal.

Two other units of San Miguel, the Philippines' biggest company by sales revenue, have yet to comply with the float requirement. San Miguel Brewery Inc, the country's second-most valuable company, and San Miguel Properties Inc, both have less than 1 percent public float.

The three San Miguel units have a combined market value of $17.3 billion.

Another San Miguel-owned firm, PAL Holdings Inc which owns flag carrier Philippine Airlines, would voluntarily delist its shares because it would not be able to meet the Dec. 31 deadline, San Miguel President Ramon Ang said in September.

These firms are among more than two dozen companies listed on the PSE that have been yet to comply with the float rule.

San Miguel Brewery has made a request to the PSE for an extension of at least six months to comply with the float requirement, saying it was evaluating, along with major shareholder Japan's Kirin Holdings Co Ltd, various options to comply with the rule.

The PSE has said it could allow deadline extensions depending on the explanations by companies.

A higher level of free float will improve the liquidity of a stock and attract more foreign investors, who are largely responsible for driving the Philippine stock market to record peaks this year.

The country, along with Thailand and Singapore, are leading the rise in Asian equities markets this year as investors focus on domestic-oriented economies, based on Thomson Reuters data.

A number of companies have informed the PSE that they would not meet the deadline and would voluntarily delist, including Metro Pacific Tollways Corp.

Companies that fail to meet the requirement by Dec. 31 face trading suspension for six months, to be followed by forced delisting if they fail to raise their free float within a six-month period.