Bayantel eyeing early exit from court-assisted rehab program

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Bayan Telecommunications Inc. (Bayantel) of the Lopezes may exit a court-assisted rehabilitation as early as this year and ahead of the 2023 target, based on a new plan being pushed by its single-biggest creditor, Globe Telecom Inc.

A revised plan, to be filed jointly by Bayantel and Globe with the rehabilitation court, will also speed up the implementation of Globe’s long-term plans for Bayantel, including realizing business synergies between them, Globe chief financial officer Alberto de Larrazabal said on Tuesday.

He said the revised rehabilitation plan  would also help in determining how much of Bayantel’s debt could be converted into equity. Bayantel  is about 97-percent owned by the Lopez family,   Larrazabal said.

He said Globe, which was considering acquiring all of Bayantel, bought about $130 million of Bayantel’s debts from its creditors last year. The current plan allows Globe to convert debt up to a maximum of 40 percent of Bayantel’s equity, he said.

“The intent is to end up with a majority stake, so we will have to work with the rehabilitation court in arriving at an amended rehabilitation plan that will be in the best interest of the company,” Larrazabal told reporters at the sidelines of Globe’s  annual stockholders’ meeting.

He said the revised plan could be filed within “the next few weeks” and would require approvals from the rehabilitation court and regulator National Telecommunications Commission.

“The plan in the amended rehab would be to try take [Bayantel] out of rehabilitation,”  Larrazabal said. “From an internal timeline, we are trying to get it done within the year.”

Globe is eyeing operational synergies with the Bayantel acquisition, that included the latter’s corporate data business and fiber optic cables in Quezon City.

“These are in areas we are not into, so it will be complementary. It’s  a nice acquisition all around,” Larrazabal.

Bayantel, owned by listed Lopez Holdings Corp., has been under corporate rehabilitation since 2003. Lopez Holdings’ share price rose 0.14 percent to P7.13 per share on Tuesday.

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