A court has upheld its own ruling that the Philippine government lift an order that seized shares belonging to the controversial businessman Eduardo Cojuangco's in food and beverage giant San Miguel Corp. The original ruling was made in October 2003.

The disputed shareholding was seized by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) in 1987 because it claimed it was bought using money intended for the development of the coconut industry.

However the anti-graft court has now given Cojuangco the right to sell the shares. He will however have to make sure that the ownership claim of the PCGG is correctly recorded and that it is given 20-days notice of any proposed sale.

The shares are equivalent to a 19% stake and three board seats in San Miguel.