PLDT group in cash-raising streakBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The group of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is selling off substantial stakes in non-core assets, worth billions of pesos, amid speculation that the group has neared a deal to acquire 80 percent of broadcast giant GMA Network Inc.
The Pangilinan group’s crown jewel, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), has made it no secret that investing in content was part of the company’s long-term strategy, transforming from a mere telecom firm to become the country’s top multimedia company.
In a disclosure Wednesday, PLDT said its subsidiary ePLDT Inc. reached a deal to sell its 27 percent stake in PhilWeb Corp. back to the online gaming firm. PhilWeb operates Internet-based games for state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).
“The sale of the shares will be executed in four tranches, which will be completed by the end of next year,” PLDT told the local bourse. The first and second portions of the four-part transaction are expected to be done at a price of P10.70 per share.
At P10.70 per share, ePLDT’s total stake in PhilWeb is worth P4.37 billion. The share price is a discount from PhilWeb’s P13-per-share value on Wednesday, but still represents a 660-percent increase from PLDT’s original investment made six years ago, when PhilWeb shares were just at P2 each.
“Having made a 660-percent return on its original investment in six years, ePLDT wanted to realize its profits,” the PLDT disclosure read.
“PhilWeb, on the other hand, was more than happy to acquire the ePLDT stake because its cash flow was sufficient to pay for its acquired shares and would therefore result in higher earnings per share for the company,” it added.
Meanwhile, PLDT subsidiary Beacon Electric Asset Holdings Inc., which owns the group’s stake in Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), announced that it had completed its transfer of 1.5-billion shares in Rockwell Land Corp. to the First Philippine Holdings Corp. Pension Fund.
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