PLDT starts unloading Rocket stake

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PLDT, Inc. has started unloading its shares in German e-commerce investor Rocket Internet AG, as part of its plan to fund its massive capital expenditure program this year.

In a statement, PLDT said its indirect subsidiary PLDT Online Investments Pte. Ltd. has committed sell at least 6.8 million Rocket Internet shares back to the German company. This represents around 67.4% of the Rocket shares held by PLDT Online.

Rocket Internet earlier announced the buyback of up to 15.47 million shares through a public share purchase offer at €24 per share.

PLDT stands to get around €163.2 million or around P10.51 billion from the deal.

“The final number of PLDT Online tendered shares accepted by Rocket will be determined after the offer period which is expected to end on 2nd May 2018. If greater than 15,472,912 Rocket shares are tendered, the Rocket shares to be sold by PLDT Online will be reduced proportionally,” PLDT said in a statement.

In February, PLDT Chairman, President, and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan said the company may sell its position in Rocket to fund its capex, which is expected to stay above P50 billion for this year.

To recall, PLDT invested €333 million (around $362 million) for a 10% stake in Rocket in August 2014. In October 2014, Rocket Internet went public, which effectively diluted PLDT’s stake, which now stands at 6.1%.

However, the Rocket investment proved disappointing, as its startups recorded heavy losses.

PLDT is set to expand its fixed and mobile networks as part of its five-year P260-billion capital expenditure (capex) program.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.

Shares in PLDT were down 2.04% or P30 to close at P1,440 apiece on Monday. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo