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PLDT’s Voyager sale to be finalized by end-Sept.

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By Bim Santos, One News

PLDT, Inc.’s sale of Voyager Innovations to foreign investors has now advanced to the next stage, with the finalization of the deal’s term of reference set before the month ends.

“We’re in the process of definitive documentation already,” PLDT Chairman, President and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan said in a text message.

He said they expect to submit to their respective boards the terms of reference by the third week or end-September.

Mr. Pangilinan said he is “quite confident” that the deal will pan out.

In early August, Mr. Pangilinan announced during the company’s financial briefing that they have signed a non-binding and detailed term sheet with certain foreign investors who would take an investment and management position in Voyager. The term sheet stipulated that they have four weeks to enter into definitive documentation with the investors.

Voyager’s sale is expected to shore up PLDT’s balance sheet as the digital innovations unit has been losing money.

Voyager — which has products in e-commerce, mobile payments, and other financial technology services — booked a P1.3-billion loss in the first half, wider than the P300 million in the same period last year.

Mr. Pangilinan said the transaction may reflect a gain for PLDT by the fourth quarter. In addition, it will also remove a recurring cash call on the part of PLDT for Voyager’s expansion.

Once the new investors are onboard, he said PLDT’s equity will fall to around 40%.

Mr. Pangilinan did not state a valuation for the deal, but noted it will be enough to recoup their investments in Voyager that has reached about P10 billion.

Once the terms are finalized, he said PLDT will seek clearance with the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) before completion of the deal.

As the digital innovations unit of PLDT, Voyager manages PayMaya Philippines, Inc., Smart Money, FINTQ, Lendr and freenet.

For the first half, PLDT’s attributable net income fell 29% to P11.76 billion, “primarily due to lower net income from wireless and other businesses, partly offset by higher net income from fixed line business.”

Excluding non-recurring items, the six-month core profit dropped 25% to P13.13 billion.

PLDT maintained a full-year core income guidance of P23-P24 billion, excluding Voyager.

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.