GREEN, ANI stocks dragged down by “Binay hacienda” issue

James Ryan Jonas

Renewable energy firm Greenergy Holdings Inc. (GREEN) and agricultural company Agri-Nurture Inc. (ANI) were two of the biggest stock decliners yesterday, after the companies and their top executive were linked to the investigation of the “overpriced” Makati City Hall parking building involving Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay and son Mayor Junjun Binay.

(See also: Binay to spend P260 million on Christmas giveaways in Makati?)

During trading yesterday, the GREEN stock tumbled 10% to close at P0.0099, while ANI declined 5.77% and closed at P2.45 per share. GREEN and ANI were the 2nd and 5th biggest decliners, respectively, among the 260+ traded stocks in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).

In yesterday’s hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that investigates the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall carpark building, former Binay ally and former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado said that a vast agricultural property in Rosario, Batangas is owned by Vice President Binay but fronted for by dummies.


350-hectare hacienda

The 350-hectare agricultural farm is currently being leased by Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp. which markets the property as an agri-tourism park. The farm boasts of two mansions, a garden copied from the Kew Garden in London, an airconditioned piggery, a 40-car garage, two man-made lagoons, an orchard, and a cock farm, among others, according to Mercado.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said that Sunchamp, which was acquired earlier this year by renewable energy firm Greenergy Holdings, is being used by Mr. Binay as a front. Senator Trillanes expressed doubt and suspicion that a company specializing in renewable energy would “for some reason, branch out into agro-tourism.”

Denial by GREEN’s and ANI’s chairman

In July 2014, GREEN acquired 62.39% of Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp. and 14.03% of agricultural company AgriNurture, Inc. (ANI) supposedly as part of the company’s efforts to diversify its portfolio.

Several government officials, including Trillanes and former Senator Kiko Pangilinan, even attended the inauguration of the sprawling Sunchamp Agri-Tourism Park a month later, in August 2014.

Antonio Tiu, Chairman of Greenergy Holdings (GREEN) and Agri-Nurture Inc. (ANI)
Antonio Tiu, Chairman of Greenergy Holdings (GREEN) and Agri-Nurture Inc. (ANI)

Mr. Antonio Tiu, Chairman of GREEN’s and ANI’s Board of Directors, denied the allegations he was fronting for the Binays, saying, “We have foreign investors coming in into the company or are part of the company, so definitely this is not a dummy corporation or a fly-by-night corporation.”

The mention of Tiu and his companies during yesterday’s Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing caused investors to go on a Sell mode, sending the stock prices of GREEN and ANI to new lows.

Carpark overpricing “to pay for hacienda work”

In the same hearing, Mercado said the Makati carpark building was overpriced by its contractor, Hilmarc’s Corp., when the latter could not collect around P30 to P50 million from the Binays for their work on the farm.

“When I told [Elenita Binay] the amount paid to Hilmarc for their work in the hacienda, she said to find other ways to pay [Hilmarc],” Mercado said. “So everything that [Hilmarc] built in Makati was overpriced.”

VP Binay’s camp denied the accusations and reiterated that the Binay-owned JCB Farms was a mere lessee of the Batangas farm.Vice presidential legal counsel Atty. Martin Subido explained that Binay divested interest in the family-owned farm when he won as Vice President in 2010.

“[VP Binay] did not own any land where his piggery business was operated,” Subido said. “Rather, he was a lessee of around 9 hectares of land, with the improvements he introduced for the piggery business duly reported as ‘Leasehold Improvements.'”

Interestingly, Binay’s lawyer Subido is also the Corporate Secretary of GREEN and a member of the Board of Directors of ANI.

Vote in the poll! Do you think the Binays are the real owners of the large Batangas agricultural farm?

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(Related article: Binay to spend P260 million on Christmas giveaways in Makati?)

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James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.