THE Maharlika Investment Corp. (MIC) said it is studying the potential of joint ventures (JVs) with foreign investors to build telecommunications towers in rural areas.

Maharlika Chief Executive Officer and President Rafael D. Consing told reporters on the sidelines of an event on Wednesday that the rural segment is difficult for incumbent telecom firms to invest in because they are reluctant to risk their own capital, opening the door for Maharlika to step into the gap.

“One of the strategies that we’re looking at is to help rollout and support the rollout of telecom towers in rural areas,” he said.

“Today, incumbent telecom companies won’t do it on their own, because it’s going to be their capital expenditure (capex). Here, it will be our capex. We will create towers that can accommodate both satellite and telecom equipment,” he added.

He said the joint ventures with foreign investors will seek to sign up telecom firms as clients for the towers.

“The incumbent telecom companies can then go and lease space in those telecom towers, to reduce their capex, right? So we’re basically helping them convert their capex into opex (operating expense) and bringing their equipment to start serving rural areas,” he added.

Mr. Consing said that these proposals are undergoing study, though he has held initial meetings with potential foreign investors.

He did not disclose details on the foreign investors, joint venture agreements, or the scope of the telecom tower building program.

The MIC’s first commitment this year will likely be an energy-related project, Mr. Consing has said, which will be announced in the latter half of the year. The energy sector is also expected take up the bulk of the fund’s initial investments.

The MIC has initial capital of P125 billion and authorized capital stock of P500 billion. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson