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SMC to buy out telco partner

/ 12:20 AM July 15, 2015

CONGLOMERATE San Miguel Corp. is consolidating control of telecommunications unit Liberty Telecoms Holdings Inc., which provides high-speed Internet services, as it announced that it would buy out its Qatar-based partner Ooredoo (formerly Qatar Telecom).

SMC said in a stock exchange filing that its board had authorized subsidiary Vega Telecom Inc. to acquire all the holdings of “Qtel West Bay Holdings S.P.C., Wi-tribe Asia Limited and White Dawn Solution Holdings Inc.” in Liberty Telecoms.

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The deal, to be subject to certain closing conditions, will also require a tender offer of common shares of Liberty Telecoms, the filing showed. Liberty Telecoms fell 2.66 percent to P2.56 per share Tuesday on thin trading volume.

The move comes amid stiff competition in the telecommunications industry, with Liberty losing market share in the high-speed Internet business.

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Earlier this year, San Miguel president Ramon S. Ang signaled that the conglomerate wanted to ramp up its telecommunication business and announced plans to enter the mobile Internet sector. Ang, however, did not specify whether the plan would involve Liberty Telecoms, which was allowed this year to exit corporate rehabilitation.

To augment falling revenues, Liberty Telecoms said during its annual meeting last June that it might lease out of the use of more than half of its 500 base stations in Metro Manila to other telcos.

Liberty mainly provides high-speed Internet services through unit wi-tribe Telecoms Inc. Its subscriber base, however, has been declining in recent years amid stiff competition. Liberty has 50,000 pre-paid and postpaid subscribers, its president and CEO Bienvenido Bañas said.

Liberty has been cutting costs and its losses have been narrowing. In the first quarter of 2015, losses hit P210.16 million compared to P307.58 million in 2014.

Liberty’s core revenue, however, continued to fall.

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TAGS: Business, economy, News, San Miguel Corporation, Telecommunications
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