Pangilinan group to acquire Philippine Star

By: Doris C. Dumlao, July 20th, 2013 07:23 PM

Manny V. Pangilinan. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – The group of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan expects to close within this year a deal to take over a controlling interest in broadsheet Philippine Star, a spokesman said Saturday.

The group is looking to acquire 80 percent of the broadsheet, said Mike Toledo, head of the MVP group media bureau. “Transaction (is) to be sealed within the year.”

“The group will also control affiliates of Star. This is part of the MVP group’s convergence strategy and evolution into a multimedia service company,” he added.

The transaction is seen valued at a little less than P5 billion.

It was previously reported that the MVP group was likewise working to acquire a controlling stake in Businessworld, the country’s oldest business paper.

Pangilinan, chairman of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and infrastructure holding firm Metro Pacific Investments Corp., first looked at the possibility of investing in Philippine Star, the country’s third mostly widely read broadsheet, in early 2009.

At that time, MediaQuest Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of the PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund, conducted due diligence audit on the Philippine Star group, including its affiliate media outfits and printing plants.  Previous estimates pointed to a P4.8 billion deal, including fresh capital outlays and billions of pesos to buy out the controlling stockholders.

Majority of Philippine Star is owned by the Belmonte family while the estate of the late journalist Max Soliven accounts for over 20 percent, based on industry estimates. Owned and published by Philstar Daily Inc., the Philippine Star group was founded in 1986 by veteran journalists, including Soliven, Betty Go-Belmonte and Art Borjal.

Through MediaQuest, MVP controls TV5, the country’s third largest free-to-air television network by audience share, and Cignal TV, the leading provider of direct-to-home satellite television services.

The MVP group also made previous attempts to buy GMA Network Inc. (GMA 7), the latest of which was for at an estimated price tag of P52.5 billion but talks collapsed last year due to regulatory “risk-sharing” issues.

The acquisition of content providers is seen to be part of the PLDT group’s strategy of evolving from a traditional telecommunications company into a multimedia service company.

The group believes that owning, producing and providing content across multiple platforms is an important component of its blueprint for growth.

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