PT&T says in talks with foreign investors

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By Denise A. Valdez

THE Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T) is hopeful it can secure a foreign investor to boost its bid for the third telecommunications player slot.

PT&T chief executive officer James G. Velasquez said the company is now in advanced discussions with potential foreign partners.

“My view is the foreign partner will come in once the new major player is announced. A lot of them are waiting in the wings, and whoever wins, they’d partner with that company. But we’re already talking to some of them,” he told reporters last Thursday.

He noted the capital expenditure required to participate in the third telco auction will “not necessarily” come from a foreign investor.

“There are many ways of funding capex (capital expenditure). Some of that could be converted to opex (operational expenditure) under a managed service agreement,” Mr. Velasquez said.

Under the government’s draft terms of reference (ToR) on the selection of a third telco player, a participating company’s combined capex and opex must be at least P40 billion and at most P130 billion.

Mr. Velasquez said the company is planning to re-list its shares on the Philippine Stock Exchange, as a way to raise funds.

“We went for voluntary suspension, but we’re planning re-list, because we’d like to have access to the capital markets as well,” he added.

PT&T is looking to exit its court-assisted rehabilitation to resume operations and raise additional capital for its expansion plans. Earlier this month, a Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) granted its petition “subject to compliance with certain requirements in line with the approved rehabilitation plan.”

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is eager to name the third telco player before the year ends, noting it has a direct order from President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. told reporters on Thursday it would not accede to some companies’ demand for more time, if there are about three to four companies that are ready to bid.

“If there are companies ready to compete with Globe (Telecommunications, Inc.) and Smart (Communications, Inc.), why not go ahead? Why should we wait for others? Maybe those who did their homework are more serious than those who are coming in late,” he said.

As for PT&T, Mr. Velasquez said it has been preparing since early this year to participate in the government’s auction.

“We have been preparing to bid as early as maybe six months ago. I think we’re just waiting for all of these to move forward. We’re ready to submit our proposal,” he said.