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Fresh funding round eyed for Voyager this year

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Voyager

PLDT, Inc.’s digital arm Voyager Innovations, Inc. is looking to secure fresh funding towards the end of 2019 to sustain its expansion in the coming year.

While there are no plans to sell more shares in Voyager after the entry of four foreign investors last year, PLDT Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Manuel V. Pangilinan told reporters there may be a need to infuse cash into the company heading into the second half.

“I think it’s fair to state that most likely there will be a new round of funding that Voyager will see…towards the end of this year. That will be up for discussion,” he said last week.

He did not elaborate on the amount or the form of fund-raising the company plans to take on, but he said he wants to “prepare them for the next round of funding beyond 2019, and beyond, say, the first half of 2020.”

“We just want management to be comfortable that they’re funded for the next phase of expansion,” Mr. Pangilinan added.

Last year, PLDT sold a more than 50% stake in Voyager for $215 million to China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd.; US-based Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR); International Finance Corp. (IFC) and IFC Emerging Asia Fund. PLDT remains the single largest shareholder in Voyager.




Voyager’s portfolio includes financial technology firm PayMaya Philippines, Inc. and PLDT’s mobile remittance brand Smart Padala.

PLDT’s share in Voyager recorded a loss of P600 million in the first half, narrowing from a loss of P1.3 billion in the same period last year.

Last week, Shailesh Baidwan, a former Visa and American Express executive, was named the new president of Voyager and PayMaya,

“I think we have a good (president) here,” Mr. Pangilinan said, referring to Mr. Baidwan.

“I explained the three major businesses (of Voyager): the digital wallet, the Smart Padala, which is doing very well, and the merchant business which he is very familiar with when he worked for Visa and American Express. I’m starting to get optimistic that in due time, as to when that’s going to be, we could see the light of day,” he added.

NEW PARTNERSHIP
Meanwhile, PayMaya said in a statement Sunday it has forged a partnership with the Junior Chamber International (JCI)-Manila to offer its cashless payment services.

The company will provide JCI-Manila its PayMaya One product: a payment device that accepts payments using any card and QR codes from PayMaya and WeChat.

“We want to ensure that associations like JCI-Manila can accept any forms of payments for all their initiatives, whether it is for donations or sponsorships to their organization or fees from members. This way they can maximize all possible sources of funds that may support their nation-building projects,” PayMaya Vice-President and Head of Growth and Marketing Raymund Villanueva said in the statement.

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. — Denise A. Valdez

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