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Chelsea in advanced talks with foreign partners for ‘third player’ telecom bid

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CHELSEA Logistics Holdings Corp. (CLC) is in “advanced” talks with foreign companies seeking to become the third entrant in the Philippine telecommunications industry.

“We’re in talks with some of the local players… We’re in advanced talks with players from countries within the region, like India, China, and Singapore,” CLC President and CEO Chryss Alfonsus V. Damuy said in a phone interview.

Mr. Damuy said the company hopes to take a minority stake in the so-called “third player,” with a larger stake to be taken by a company within its Udenna group, which is controlled by Davao businessman Dennis A. Uy, or the parent company itself, Udenna Corp..

While he did not identify the companies involved in the talks, China Telecommunications Corp. is the company nominated by the Chinese government to participate in third-player selection. Leading Indian telcos include Bharti Airtel Ltd., Idea Cellular Ltd., and Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. The top Singapore telcos are Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel), which has a partnership with domestic incumbent Globe Telecom, Inc.; M1 Ltd., and Starhub Ltd.

Mr. Damuy said the company is awaiting the final terms of reference (ToR) for third-player selection to be released by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

“It all depends on the final ToR if necessary, and if it’s aligned with what we want to do,” Mr. Damuy said.

Last month, the company amended its Articles of Incorporation, in particular the second article, to expand its primary purpose to include infrastructure facilities and systems.

Mr. Damuy had said that the move will also be beneficial in the long term once the company enters e-commerce. The company has been studying an e-commerce venture due to the growth and potential of the segment.

Chelsea reported a net profit of P115 million, up 326%, due to the acquisition of Starlite Ferries, Inc. and Worklink Services, Inc.

The government is set to select the third player within the year.

The DICT amended provisions of its memorandum order on the policy guidelines or selecting the third player. The company or consortium must have paid-in capital of at least P10 billion; experience in providing, delivering, and operating of telecommunications services for the last five years; a congressional franchise not related to either PLDT, Inc. or Globe Telecom, Inc.; and no uncontested liabilities with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) as of Jan. 31, 2018.

The DICT has said that the re-inclusion of the P10-billion paid-in capital requirement for the selection of the third player will not deter interested parties.

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