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GMA7 open to new suitors again

Negotiations with San Miguel’s Ang terminated
GMA7’s chair and CEO Felipe Gozon INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

GMA7’s chair and CEO Felipe Gozon INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Television broadcast giant GMA Network Inc. on Tuesday signaled its willingness to entertain new investors or partners as it announced that negotiations between its major shareholders and businessman Ramon Ang on an investment have been abruptly “terminated.”

READ: GMA deal with Ramon S. Ang terminated

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The deal, involving the sale of 30 percent of GMA held by the controlling Gozon, Duavit and Jimenez families to Ang, who is also president of San Miguel Corp., is the latest in a string of failed talks with other groups over the past decade.

GMA shares fell 0.63 percent to P6.29 each following the announcement. This values a 30-percent stake at about P6.3 billion, but Ang was reportedly offering a significant premium to GMA’s market price.

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GMA, nevertheless, is not short of possible suitors.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) chair Manuel V. Pangilinan said yesterday that he remained keen on “working with” GMA, which mainly competes with rival ABS-CBN Corp. for TV ratings. A source said the Ayala group’s Globe Telecom had also expressed its interest in GMA.

Pangilinan said a deal with GMA would fit into the narrative of PLDT’s shifting business model, which aims to combine its traditional telecommunication business with content providers amid intensifying competition.

Its media arm, for example, already owns TV5, the country’s third-biggest television network, apart from newspapers like BusinessWorld, Philippine Star and a minority stake in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

He said this included working with more than the top players and content providers such as GMA, which PLDT had tried to acquire in previous years although a deal was never finalized.

“From that perspective, we’re open to any arrangement that marries platforms with content in whatever space might exist or develop,” Pangilinan said in a text message through a spokesperson.

Globe, which had also bid for GMA in the past, was keen on tapping the broadcast company for its content, president and CEO Ernest Cu said in an interview last week. “Looking at the partnerships we are creating, a lot of it is about content. So anything to do with content is interesting.”

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GMA did not offer any reason as to why talks with Ang ended, based on its disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange. Its officials also declined further comment yesterday.

However, a source close to San Miguel said one of the three groups in control of GMA had a flip-flopping stance on the matter, leading to the breakdown of the deal with Ang.

Ang, who was pursing the deal as a personal investment, said he was “surprised” and that he was himself seeking an explanation.

“I did not expect this. There was no indication they [GMA major shareholders] would do this in the middle of negotiations,” Ang said in a text message.

Doubts over the deal were raised during GMA’s quarterly briefing last May when chair and CEO Felipe Gozon implied that the closure of a transaction with Ang, who had offered to invest in the company in January 2014, was taking more time than initially anticipated.

“The ball is no longer in our court,” Gozon said in a briefing last May. “There is no fixed deadline [for Ang] but as with everything, there must be a reasonable period.”

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TAGS: Ernest Cu, Felipe Gozon, Gilberto Duavit, Globe, GMA Network Inc., GMA7, Manuel V. Pangilinan, merger, Ramon Ang, San Miguel Beer, Television
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