The Selling of Negros Grace Pharmacy to Ayala Corp
In the morning of December 7, 2018, Bacolod City was surprised to see the news that the well-loved, family owned, Bacolod-based drugstore chain Negros Grace Pharmacy was selling most of its shares to the conglomerate Ayala Corp.
While many people speculated and had mixed reactions, one woman was left in tears and anguish. And that is none other than Mrs. Corazon T. Lo, the other half of the husband and wife team that started Negros Grace Pharmacy in Bacolod 47 years ago.
The News That Broke Her Heart
Please read the full text of the news release below, as was published in the ABS-CBN news website, last December 7, 2018.
Full text below. Source: ABS-CBN news link
“Ayala Corp to acquire 75 percent of Negros Grace drugstores
Posted at Dec 07 2018 09:29 AM
MANILA — Ayala Corp said Friday it would acquire a 75-percent stake in a Visayas drugstore chain, expanding its health portfolio to pharmacies.
AC Health signed a share purchase agreement with Jasminum Corp for a controlling stake in Bacolod-based Negros Grace, which has 70 stores, Ayala Corp told the stock exchange.
AC Health’s portfolio also includes Generika drugstore, MedGrocer, Vigos Health Technologies and mobile app AIDE.
“This transaction enables AC Health to expand its portfolio in pharmacies, particularly in the Visayas region,” according to the disclosure.”
An Unwelcome Birthday Gift
Two days before her grand 80th birthday celebration held at the SMX Convention Center last October 13, 2018, Mrs. Lo reportedly received a call from Atty. Asia Canieso, the legal counsel of her youngest son, Ian Manuel T. Lo, asking for a meeting. Mrs. Lo had to decline because of the preparations for her birthday bash. The mother of three sons recalls that if she had agreed to that meeting, then her birthday would have been ruined.
Two days after her birthday celebration that was attended by more than a thousand guests, she again reportedly received another call from Atty. Canieso asking for a meeting. Even though she was busy as she was preparing for a trip to Canada a few days later, Mrs. Lo agreed to meet with Atty. Canieso.
In that meeting, Mrs. Lo narrated that Atty. Canieso handed over a letter to her and told her that Ian was talking to several groups that are interested in buying Negros Grace Pharmacy, Inc. and its subsidiaries. She was also informed that Ian will sell the three corporations if he finds acceptable offers from the interested buyers. Atty. Canieso also supposedly asked her about her opinion on the ideal selling price for the corporations. When she heard this, Mrs. Lo recalls that emotions flooded over her. “Tears just flowed down my eyes,” she said, as she was overwrought with emotion. With that, she did not read and accept the letter.
After Mrs. Lo sought legal advice, her lawyer, Atty. Melanie Zosa, requested for a copy of the letter on November 23, 2018 from Atty. Canieso. Atty. Canieso then gave Atty. Zosa a copy of the letter on November 26, 2018. The letter, which is dated October 15, 2018, stated what Atty. Canieso told Mrs. Lo in their meeting.
On November 28, 2018, Mrs. Lo sent a letter through her lawyer, Atty. Zosa, in response to Ian’s letter dated October 15. She conveyed her shock, hurt, and sadness because of the news. She made it clear that she does not want the three corporations that she and her husband founded and worked hard for to be sold. In the letter, she said that the family business is worth what it is right now because of her efforts. She wishes for her decision to be respected by Ian.
Cruelty and Deception
On November 23, 2018, Mrs. Lo sent a text message to her two sons, the eldest Theodore (Ted) Manuel T. Lo, who still has an interest in the corporations, and Ian, asking about the news that she received from a distributor in Iloilo that he heard from a sales representative of Johnson and Johnson that Ayala Corp was asking for their help in looking for a manager that can manage the most powerful drugstore in Western Visayas that Ayala Corp acquired.
According to her, neither of her sons responded. “It is clearly deception,” for Mrs. Lo knows very well that a business transaction of such magnitude could not happen in a few weeks’ time. The fact that Ian had been negotiating with Ayala Corp since last year yet, with Ted’s knowledge from the very start, was later reportedly confirmed by Atty. Canieso to Mrs. Lo.
A Mother’s Greatest Heartbreak
On December 7, 2018, Mrs. Lo said that Atty. Canieso informed her that Ian had already sold Negros Grace Pharmacy to Ayala Corp.
Ian’s lawyer reportedly asked Mrs. Lo how she felt about it. The octogenarian mother asked the question back to Ian’s lawyer, who supposedly said, “Sad and disappointed.”
Coincidentally, that was also the day that the news of the sale broke out in the national media.
On that same day, Mrs. Lo right away sent a letter through her lawyer, Atty. Zosa, reiterating her position on the sale. She also demanded to be furnished a copy of the Sales Purchase Agreement executed between Ian and Ayala Corp. Up to this day, Mrs. Lo said that she has not received the copy that she asked for.
Due to the news of the sale of the Negros Grace Pharmacy to Ayala Corp that was released on the internet, well-meaning friends, relatives, business associates, acquaintances, as well as Mrs. Lo’s churchmates would congratulate her and ask her details about the sale.
The forlorn mother said that she could only shake her head, feeling burdened and additionally distressed because she didn’t even know about the sale in the first place.
Disclaimer: The owner of this blog is in no way connected to this case nor has any public opinion on the matter. Mrs. Corazon T. Lo asked to be interviewed after news of the sale broke out in order to share her sentiments.
Update, Dec. 20, 2018: Waiting for the official statements of Negros Grace Pharmacy and Ayala Corp.