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SkyCable in joint-venture talks

/ 07:40 PM November 03, 2013

SkyCable Corp., the cable television and broadband arm of ABS-CBN Corp., is in talks with two groups for partnerships aimed at expanding its platform into the wireless segment, a company official said.

Rolando Valdueza, ABS-CBN group chief financial officer, said the move was part of the company’s longer-term strategy to be present in multiple formats for television ahead of a potential initial public offering (IPO), which has been shelved for now.

“We continue to explore how we can be able to maximize our investment in SkyCable. An IPO is an ongoing consideration but the direction for now is for SkyCable to be present in all platforms,” Valdueza told reporters in a recent interview.

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“So right now, we are in exploratory talks with one or two groups,” Valdueza said. He clarified that the talks so far did not involve any type of acquisition or merger and that ABS-CBN was looking for a joint-venture deal.

“This depends on how talks are progressing, but there are already some positive signs,” he added without elaborating. “We need to be all platforms [before going public]. We need a good story.”

Combining multiple platforms has been a global industry trend that is picking up in the Philippines.

ABS-CBN itself is working out the final kinks before launching its own telecommunications service, which will be supported by the network infrastructure of Ayala-led Globe Telecom, the country’s second-biggest telco provider.

Valdueza said they were still targeting to launch their telco service before the end of 2013.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., the country’s biggest telecommunications company, has been branching out into the media sector, acquiring in recent years third-ranked television broadcast firm TV5 and satellite TV operator Cignal Digital TV.

It also has minority stakes in major dailies like the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star and a controlling interest in Businessworld, the country’s oldest business publication.

Valdueza, meanwhile, noted that SkyCable continued to post growth following the acquisition of Destiny Cable. He said the company now has more than half a million subscribers.

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ABS-CBN earlier reported that SkyCable revenues increased 30 percent to P3.3 billion in the first six months of the year. ABS-CBN itself posted revenues of P17.06 billion in the first half, up 23 percent.

Revenues could also improve after the National Telecommunications Commission recently issued implementing rules criminalizing the illegal use or theft of cable TV and cable Internet signals. The rules noted that guilty subscribers and nonsubscribers face two to five years of jail time and fines of P50,000 to P100,000.

Allan Dungao, chair of industry group Philippine Cable Television Association, noted that about a million people, or 30 percent of its existing market, were illegally using services.

The Anti-Cable Television and Cable Internet Tapping Act of 2013 was signed by President Aquino last April.

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TAGS: ABS-CBN, Broadcasting, Business, Globe telecom, News, SkyCable, Television
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