By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter
CHINESE tech company Tencent Holdings Ltd. and investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) on Wednesday completed its $175-million investment in Voyager Innovations, Inc., according to PLDT, Inc.
PLDT Chairman, CEO and President Manuel V. Pangilinan said the company targets to close the $40-million investment in Voyager by World Bank sister organization International Finance Corp. (IFC) and IFC Emerging Asia Fund within the next two weeks.
“Money in today was $175 million. IFC I think is Dec. 10 for the $40 million. That should complete $215 million. That’s it for Series A funding,” Mr. Pangilinan told reporters in Makati City on Wednesday.
He noted additional Series B funding would need to be raised after two years, but the $215 million should be enough to expand Voyager in the meantime.
“We look at the business plan. They’re going to rev it up. So the scale of the business will expand in the next two years… I think we have enough cash to fund the next two to three years, but then on the third to fourth year we’re going to raise a bit more, Series B,” Mr. Pangilinan said.
After the financial closing, PLDT’s stake in Voyager would be reduced to 48%, but will remain the biggest single shareholder in the technology company.
Mr. Pangilinan expects the new investments to help PLDT reduce its losses from Voyager, which grew to P1.8 billion in the nine-month period from P800 million in the same period last year.
“Hopefully the level of losses we will pick up would be much less. But again, it depends on the level of losses that they will realize next year and in 2020,” he said.
In its disclosure to the stock exchange, PLDT quoted Voyager President and CEO Orlando B. Vea as saying, “We believe with investors like KKR and Tencent leading the way, the Philippines’ profile as a destination for tech investment is on the rise.”
While Tencent and KKR will have seats on Voyager’s board, Mr. Pangilinan said IFC and IFC Emerging Asia Fund will be given observer status.
“They’ll have some observance on the board. They’re not entitled to a board seat, given the level of the size of investments of both Tencent and KKR. They are two principal investors… There are certain governance matters that we have to adhere to, because that’s the way they are. They are a supernational institution. We expect them to be active on the board,” he said.
Voyager is the digital innovations arm of PLDT, which manages mobile wallet PayMaya Philippines, Inc. and mobile remittance brand Smart Padala, online loaning platform Lendr, and free mobile browsing app Freenet.
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.