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Voyager poised to close $175-M contract

/ 05:05 AM October 29, 2018

Telco giant PLDT Inc.’s Voyager Innovations is poised to close a $175 million deal with investors Tencent Holdings of China and US-based KKR by next month.

PLDT chair and CEO Manuel Pangilinan gave the target as he also cited ongoing talks with other investors, including the World Bank’s IFC, to put in another $50 million into Voyager, the PLDT Group’s digital innovations and fintech development arm.

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“We are still in the process of closing the transaction,” Pangilinan said last week on the sidelines of the MVP Bossing Awards. “The target date of completion is around the middle of November.”

Tencent Holdings, the developer of WeChat, and KKR are the lead investors in the Voyager deal, which has been branded as the single-largest investment ever in a Filipino tech company.

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Under the deal terms, first announced on Oct. 4, Voyager will issue new shares to Tencent and KKR. This means the bulk of the funds will go toward the expansion of Voyager’s platforms, which include mobile wallet PayMaya and online lending facility Lendr.

Both Tencent and KKR will take a minority stake in Voyager, with PLDT still majority owner. With the entry of other investors such as IFC, PLDT expects its stake to go below 50 percent, however, it will still remain the single-biggest shareholder in Voyager.

The Philippines, with its large and relatively young population—a significant portion of which does not have access to traditional banking—is fertile ground for global fintech giants seeking growth outside their home markets.

Telecommunications players PLDT and Globe Telecom are leading the way in developing “cashless” mobile payments in the country. In 2017, Globe partnered with Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial, the developer of Alipay. Ma’s Alibaba Group is a major rival of Tencent in China.

With the support of new investments, the PayMaya platform could reach some 20 million customers by 2020, Voyager CEO Orlando Vea said in a previous interview.

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