The team, which has been the subject of disbandment rumors, financial problems and ownership speculations, reportedly has been sold to Phoenix Fuel, an oil company engaged in the retailing of gasoline, diesel and related products.
If true, Phoenix may have finally been able to get into the country’s most enduring professional sports league after being thwarted in its first try five years ago by San Miguel Corporation which invoked a league rule that competing firms cannot be accepted in the PBA.
San Miguel then was using Petron as its commercial name in the PBA.
Ironically, at the center of negotiation is San Miguel which, according to PBA sources, approved the purchase of Barako Bull to Phoenix.
Why this is so is a long known “secret” within the league and business circles that says it’s actually San Miguel that supports the franchise financially, or even own it.
The question of when Phoenix can start playing and whether it would retain the core of the team and also its coach remain uncertain.
In the PBA records, however, Barako Bull is owned by Linaheim Corporate Services, a company owned by Bert Lina, the current Customs commissioner, who purchased a 51 percent share of the franchise from the Photokina Marketing of businessman George Chua before the 2011-12 season.
Prior to that, Barako Bull reportedly agreed in principle to sell its franchise to Phoenix.
The board, however, disapproved the transfer of the Barako Bull franchise to Phoenix, but it approved the deal between Barako Bull and Lina’s company for P50 million.
Lina had previously sold his other team – Air21 – to Manny V. Pangilinan’s North Luzon Expressway or NLEX for P100 million two years ago.