Prime Media Holdings Inc sets Romualdez clan up for a big piece of the broadcast media pie

It appears that Leyte representative and House Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez is now ready to expand his media empire from print to broadcast. The Philippine Stock Exchange had today reportedly “lifted the trading suspension of Prime Media Holdings Inc. (PRIM) after the company submitted the required comprehensive disclosure on backdoor listing.”

Prime Media Holdings is a listed but dormant company on the Philippine Stock Exchange which was acquired by Romualdez from Metro Pacific after a bankruptcy claim for a majority of 77% of its outstanding shares. These are owned by another Romualdez holding company, RYM Business Management Corporation, RYM being the initials of Romualdez’s wife, Yedda Marie. Another Romualdez company, Philippine Collective Media Corporation, which operates FM and AM radio stations in Tacloban, would then buy into Prime Media through a share swap, giving Prime Media control of PCMC and its radio network.

“With the national franchise of PCMC, PRIM can engage in an active business of mass media and further leverage its franchise and network for use by existing content providers in need of broadcasting rights,” PRIM said in a disclosure yesterday.

PCMC was given a national broadcast franchise to operate television and radio stations in the country. Romualdez is heir to the business empire built by his father, former Ambassador Benjamin “Kokoy” Romualdez. Kokoy was often called the “dumb” brother of First Lady Imelda Marcos but he was far from living up to the pejorative description of him. In fact, he was responsible for the windfall the Lopez family enjoyed after Cory Aquino gave back control of Meralco with very little compensation accruing to the government. Kokoy had a competent executive in Mario Camacho running Meralco and First Philippine Holdings for him. PCI Bank was being handled by Paeng Buenaventura while the Journal Group of publications was in the capable hands of several veteran journalists.

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Former Finance Secretary Jaime Ongpin, was at the helm of Benguet Consolidated, one of the oldest mining companies during the Marcos regime. Interestingly, brother Philip is married to Sandy Prieto of the family which control the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Eldest brother Daniel is based in New York and has made a name for himself as an architect to the rich and famous of New York society. Daniel took up Political Science and Economics at Yale only to enroll again in Architecture after graduation. He has been featured in Architectural Digest as one of the top ten architects in the US.

Business and politics go hand-in-hand in the Philippines. Romualdez voted against the grant of a new franchise to ABS-CBN but has been actively pursuing a blocktime deal for some of ABS-CBN’s shows to air on his network. The provincial radio stations will come in handy for the 2022 election given the pandemic environment. Romualdez is one of those rumored to be a potential Vice-Presidential running mate of Presidential daughter Sara Duterte if she decides to make a bid for the Presidency.

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