TBGI throws hat in ring for 3rd telco slot
Publicly traded Transpacific Broadband Group International Inc. (TBGI) announced on Thursday it would join the race to become the country’s third major telco player.
This was among a series of plans approved by its board of directors. Other initiatives included selling up to 40 percent for foreign investors in a private share sale, setting up a common tower company and tapping Chinese technology and telco partners, a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange showed.
TBGI holds a valuable telco franchise, which will expire in 2023. It said it would join the government’s third telco initiative as part of a consortium.
“Given that the terms of reference for the third telco is clear and definitive, TBGI can now actively pursue its strategies in expanding business activities,” the company, led by businessman Arsenio Ng, said in its filing.
The government has yet to finalize the terms of reference for the third telco selection process. However, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said last week the final version would use the highest committed level of service (HCLoS) model as the basis for awarding a set of 3G, 4G and potential 5G frequencies.
“The disclosure and the various potential businesses mentioned only demonstrate the eagerness of possible third players after the announcement of the HCLoS model,” Pierre Galla, cofounder of ICT advocacy group Democracy.Net.PH, said on Thursday.
TBGI did not give details on its planned share sale and potential Chinese partners.
On the latter, the company said it would establish a “representative office in China” along with a Chinese consortium “involved with telecoms and technology.”
To support its telco venture, TBGI cited an energy investment with affiliate ATN Holdings, a holding company also controlled by Ng.
“TBGI coinvested with ATN Holdings Inc. for 30 percent ownership in ATN Solar that established the most modern crusher plant, a high margin business that can generate significant cash dividends to be used by TBGI in the aforementioned business opportunities,” the disclosure read.
According to the DICT, a company or consortium would need to invest at least P200 billion over a five-year period to roll out a telco network nationwide.
The news on Thursday sent TBGI’s share price up 38 percent to P0.62 apiece as the benchmark index rose 0.23 percent.
TBGI generates revenues from a variety of internet services to clients such as schools, private businesses and government agencies. Revenue last year rose 6.6 percent to P41.52 million. Losses during the period ballooned to P4.58 million from a profit of P1.48 million in 2016.
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