Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and rival Globe Telecom, the top two telecom companies in the Philippines, will jointly acquire the telecommunication assets of conglomerate San Miguel Corp. for 69.1 billion pesos ($1.48 billion), PLDT announced Monday. Additionally, PLDT will also buy 50 percent equity interest in New Century Telecoms and eTelco for 900 million pesos, its statement said.
PLDT and Globe will both acquire 50 percent each of Vega Telecom — the telecom business of San Miguel — which will include 100 percent equity stake for a consideration of 52.08 billion pesos and the assumption of about 17.02 billion pesos of liabilities, according to the statement.
Ramon Ang, chairman of San Miguel, hoped for his energy, infrastructure and beer conglomerate to become the third player in the Philippines’ fast-growing high-speed internet market but faced many hurdles along the way, including a breakdown of joint venture talks with Australia’s Telstra Corp. two months ago.
Calling the deal a “master stroke” for San Miguel, Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist at Manila-based BDO Unibank Inc., told Bloomberg, “They will be getting a large sum and sparing themselves from a bruising fight in an industry that is getting more competitive and bloodier had Ang pushed through with telecoms.”
The acquisition, subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals, will “further improve Internet and data services for the public, and speed up the country's overall development efforts. Following the acquisition, customers will progressively experience faster Internet and higher call and data quality,” the PLDT statement said. The Philippines currently has among the worst internet speeds in the world.
PLDT and Globe will both get access to the important 700 MHz frequency as part of the deal, leading to “wider coverage and more efficient network utilization.” However, certain frequencies will also be returned to the government by the acquired company, which will “allow for a third-party operator to enter the market.”
Payment of the equity portion of the acquisition will be made in three tranches; 50 percent will be paid at the time of signing the deal; 25 percent will be paid six months after signing the deal; and the remainder 25 percent will be paid another six months later.
Manuel V. Pangilinan, CEO of PLDT, said: “This [transaction] will enable existing operators to provide significantly improved Internet and data services to the public and to our customers in the shortest possible time. At the same time, it leaves the door open for new entrants into the industry.”
PLDT is backed by Japan’s NTT Group and Globe is partly owned by Singapore Telecommunications.
Shares of Globe were trading 5.58 percent higher on the Philippine Stock Exchange at 1:22 p.m., local time, Monday (1:22 a.m. EDT), while PLDT shares were up 9.13 percent. Shares of San Miguel, however, were entirely flat.