Lintonjua, Jr. v. Eternit Corporation

G.R. No. 144805, 8 June 2006

FACTS:

The Eternit Corporation (EC) is a corporation duly organized and registered under Philippine laws. Since 1950, it had been engaged in the manufacture of roofing materials and pipe products. Ninety (90%) percent of the shares of stocks of EC were owned by Eteroutremer S.A. Corporation (ESAC), a corporation organized and registered under the laws of Belgium. In 1986, the management of ESAC grew concerned about the political situation in the Philippines and wanted to stop its operations in the country. The Committee for Asia of ESAC instructed Michael Adams, a member of EC’s Board of Directors, to dispose of the eight parcels of land. Adams engaged the services of realtor/broker Lauro G. Marquez so that the properties could be offered for sale to prospective buyers. Glanville later showed the properties to Marquez.

Marquez thereafter offered the parcels of land and the improvements thereon to Eduardo B. Litonjua, Jr. of the Litonjua & Company, Inc. The Litonjua siblings offered to buy the property for P20,000,000.00 cash. Marquez apprised Glanville of the Litonjua siblings’ offer and relayed the same to Delsaux in Belgium, but the latter did not respond. It was only on February 12, 1987 that Delsaux sent a telex to Glanville stating that, based on the “Belgian/Swiss decision,” the final offer was “US$1,000,000.00 and P2,500,000.00 to cover all existing obligations prior to final liquidation.”

Marquez conferred with Glanvilleconfirmed that the Litonjua siblings had accepted the counter-proposal of Delsaux. He also stated that the Litonjua siblings would confirm full payment within 90 days after execution and preparation of all documents of sale, together with the necessary governmental clearances.The Litonjua brothers deposited the amount of US$1,000,000.00 with the Security Bank & Trust Company, Ermita Branch, and drafted an Escrow Agreement to expedite the sale.

Sometime later, Marquez and the Litonjua brothers inquired from Glanville when the sale would be implemented. In a telex dated April 22, 1987, Glanville informed Delsaux that he had met with the buyer, which had given him the impression that “he is prepared to press for a satisfactory conclusion to the sale. Meanwhile, with the assumption of Corazon C. Aquino as President of the Republic of the Philippines, the political situation in the Philippines had improved. Marquez received a telephone call from Glanville, advising that the sale would no longer proceed. The Litonjuas then filed a complaint for specific performance and damages against EC (now the Eterton Multi-Resources Corporation) and the Far East Bank & Trust Company, and ESAC in the RTC of Pasig City.

In their answer to the complaint, EC and ESAC alleged that since Eteroutremer was not doing business in the Philippines, it cannot be subject to the jurisdiction of Philippine courts; the Board and stockholders of EC never approved any resolution to sell subject properties nor authorized Marquez to sell the same; and the telex dated October 28, 1986 of Jack Glanville was his own personal making which did not bind EC.

ISSUE:

Won Glanville and Delsaux have the necessary authority to sell the subject properties.

RULING:

NO. Section 23 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 68, otherwise known as the Corporation Code of the Philippines, provides:

SEC. 23. The Board of Directors or Trustees. – Unless otherwise provided in this Code, the corporate powers of all corporations formed under this Code shall be exercised, all business conducted and all property of such corporations controlled and held by the board of directors or trustees to be elected from among the holders of stocks, or where there is no stock, from among the members of the corporation, who shall hold office for one (1) year and until their successors are elected and qualified.

Indeed, a corporation is a juridical person separate and distinct from its members or stockholders and is not affected by the personal rights,obligations and transactions of the latter.It may act only through its board of directors or, when authorized either by its by-laws or by its board resolution, through its officers or agents in the normal course of business. The general principles of agency govern the relation between the corporation and its officers or agents, subject to the articles of incorporation, by-laws, or relevant provisions of law.

Under Section 36 of the Corporation Code, a corporation may sell or convey its real properties, subject to the limitations prescribed by law and the Constitution, as follows:

SEC. 36. Corporate powers and capacity. – Every corporation incorporated under this Code has the power and capacity:

x x x x

7. To purchase, receive, take or grant, hold, convey, sell, lease, pledge, mortgage and otherwise deal with such real and personal property, including securities and bonds of other corporations, as the transaction of a lawful business of the corporation may reasonably and necessarily require, subject to the limitations prescribed by the law and the Constitution.

The property of a corporation, however, is not the property of the stockholders or members, and as such, may not be sold without express authority from the board of directors. Physical acts, like the offering of the properties of the corporation for sale, or the acceptance of a counter-offer of prospective buyers of such properties and the execution of the deed of sale covering such property, can be performed by the corporation only by officers or agents duly authorized for the purpose by corporate by-laws or by specific acts of the board of directors.[28] Absent such valid delegation/authorization, the rule is that the declarations of an individual director relating to the affairs of the corporation, but not in the course of, or connected with, the performance of authorized duties of such director, are not binding on the corporation.

In this case, the petitioners as plaintiffs below, failed to adduce in evidence any resolution of the Board of Directors of respondent EC empowering Marquez, Glanville or Delsaux as its agents, to sell, let alone offer for sale, for and in its behalf, the eight parcels of land owned by respondent EC including the improvements thereon. While Glanville was the President and General Manager of respondent EC, and Adams and Delsaux were members of its Board of Directors, the three acted for and in behalf of respondent ESAC, and not as duly authorized agents of respondent EC; a board resolution evincing the grant of such authority is needed to bind EC to any agreement regarding the sale of the subject properties. Such board resolution is not a mere formality but is a condition sine qua non to bind respondent EC. Admittedly, respondent ESAC owned 90% of the shares of stocks of respondent EC; however, the mere fact that a corporation owns a majority of the shares of stocks of another, or even all of such shares of stocks, taken alone, will not justify their being treated as one corporation.[43]

*Case Digest by Stephanie C. Castillo, JD-IV, Andres Bonifacio College, SY: 2019-2020

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