PTT announces board shake-up

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By Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo

PHILIPPINE Telegraph & Telephone Corp. (PT&T) has announced a shake-up of its board, with two of its directors quitting amid the company’s bid to become the country’s third biggest telco player.

The company said in a disclosure to the stock exchange on Friday that Benjamin M. Bitanga and Mr. Gerardo R. De Leon have resigned. James R. Velasquez and Renato B. Garcia were elected as their replacements.

Mr. Bitanga along with current chairman Salvador B. Zamora II took control of the telco when investment company Menlo Capital Corp. acquired 70% from Republic Telecommunications Holdings Inc.

In a phone interview on Friday, company Chief Operations Officer (COO) and Treasurer Miguel Marco A. Bitanga said that Benjamin M. Bitanga will also step down as company president and chief executive officer.

“James Velasquez will replace Benjamin Bitanga as President and CEO,” COO Mr. Bitanga told BusinessWorld.

Mr. Velasquez, he said, is “very important for us as a telco” given “his experience with IBM, with IT.”

“This is strategic on the part of PT&T, and will add depth to our board,” Mr. Bitanga said.

“With our focus for the third player selection, propping the team is important. For Renato Garcia, he has 44 years of experience in the industry with him,” he added.

The company is among those vying to be the third major telco player. It currently operates a broadband network in Metro Manila and Regions III and IV.

The company was a major player in the 1990s but was affected by the Asian financial crisis.

Mr. Zamora earlier said PT&T was in talks with companies for the former’s plan to become the Philippines’ third major player after PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc.

The government expects to choose a third player by June, as it currently revises selection criteria.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology is gearing toward requiring wide coverage and fast Internet connection, rather than its previous draft that requires having the highest committed financial investment and having a net worth of P10 billion.