THE World Bank’s sister organization International Finance Corp. (IFC) and IFC Emerging Asia Fund are investing $40 million in PLDT, Inc.’s technology unit Voyager Innovations, the telecommunications giant said on Monday.
In a statement on Monday, PLDT said it signed an agreement with IFC and the fund managed by IFC Asset Management Company for the subscription of $40 million worth of newly issued shares in Voyager.
The two companies join investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) and Chinese tech company Tencent Holdings Ltd. as foreign investors in Voyager. KKR and Tencent earlier announced a consolidated investment of $175 million in PLDT’s digital innovations arm.
The four foreign partners will now have a total combined investment of $215 million in Voyager, which handles the PayMaya Philippines, Inc., mobile remittance brand Smart Padala, online loaning platform Lendr, financial technology arm FINTQ, and free mobile browsing app Freenet.
PLDT said its ownership stake in Voyager would be reduced to below 50% once the deal is closed, which is expected before the year ends. However, PLDT will remain the single largest shareholder in the tech company.
“We at PLDT are quite happy to welcome the investment… Through its Global Innovative Retail Payments Program, IFC aims to make financial services much more accessible and affordable to the world’s low-income population by supporting innovative financial services. That is precisely the goal that PLDT is pursuing through Voyager’s platforms,” PLDT Chairman, CEO and President Manuel V. Pangilinan was quoted as saying.
Mr. Pangilinan had earlier said selling stakes in Voyager was intended to help PLDT regain losses from the unit, which stood at P1.8 billion during the first three quarters of the year. He estimated that PLDT’s investment in Voyager since 2013 is at around P9 billion to P10 billion.
Voyager’s closest competition in the Philippine market is Globe Telecom, Inc.’s GCash, which also took a minority investment from Ant Financial Services Group of Chinese billionaire Jack Ma last year.
In a separate disclosure to the stock exchange, PLDT said it had also signed the agreement for its investment in information and IT solutions provider Multisys Technologies Corp., which it announced earlier this month.
“PLDT’s investment involves the acquisition of new and existing shares of Multisys equivalent to a 45.73% ownership stake. As part of the Investment Agreement, PLDT will infuse P1.6 billion fresh capital into Multisys subject to the fulfillment of the prescribed conditions to complete such investment,” the company said.
In its earlier announcement, PLDT said Multisys will help PLDT Enterprise, ePLDT and Voyager offer custom-made solutions for its customers.
“This investment positions PLDT as a telecoms and digital services provider with core software development capabilities,” Mr. Pangilinan was quoted as saying then.
For the first nine months of 2018, PLDT’s attributable income dropped 26% to P16.27 billion from P21.87 billion a year ago due to accelerated depreciation of P4.5 billion related to its network assets.
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