By Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo, Reporter
AUSTRALIAN telecommunications company Telstra Corp. Ltd. said it will not join the bidding process for the “third” major telecommunications player in the Philippines.
In an e-mail statement sent to BusinessWorld, Telstra said it has no plans of entering the mobile telecommunications market in the country.
“The Philippines remains an important market for Telstra as we grow our Enterprise business internationally. It is also a customer service hub for Telstra, where we have invested in world class facilities and talent to serve our customers. We are committed to these areas of business in the country and have no plans to enter the mobile telecom market,” the company said.
To recall in 2016, Telstra was in talks with conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) to form a venture to compete against PLDT, Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc. However, talks bogged down, and SMC sold its telco assets to the two telco giants for around P70 billion.
Telstra did not officially state the reasons for the termination of the talks but analysts previously noted the Australian company may have been turned off by possible legal and pricing battles with the incumbents despite the attractive Philippine market.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is expected to release a second draft terms of reference on May 28. It is set to name the third player by August at the earliest.
Among the existing requirements for the third telco are: paid-in capital of at least P10 billion; experience in providing, delivering, and operating of telecommunications services for the last five years; a congressional franchise not related to either PLDT or Globe; and no uncontested liabilities with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) as of Jan. 31, 2018.
BMI Research had said that the P10-billion requirement is a big factor that may put off interested bidders.
The DICT had said that the financial requirement was reinstated after being initially removed, in order to ensure that the third player has the financial capability to compete with PLDT and Globe.
The DICT sees mobile number portability, change in foreign ownership requirements, open access, and spectrum reallocation, will make setting up a third player attractive to investors.
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.