Citing antitrust risks, PLDT drops SkyCable bid
Telecommunications giant PLDT Inc. is no longer bidding for ABS-CBN Corp.’s SkyCable Corp., one of the country’s largest cable television companies, on worries the deal will be rejected by the antimonopoly regulator.
PLDT chair and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan said on Thursday the group had “withdrawn” from the bidding process for SkyCable, which became an unexpected acquisition target after ABS-CBN lost its broadcast franchise in July following attacks from the Duterte administration.
PLDT already controls satellite TV company CignalTV and major broadcaster TV5.
It is stepping back from what appeared to be strong interest in buying SkyCable under exemptions for corporate buyouts provided under the recently passed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.
Pangilinan said their own legal review revealed that under the law, the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) could still scrutinize transactions and even reverse agreements.
“That risk might arise, the risk is there and the prospect of divestment might be real so we decided not to attract the risk,” Pangilinan said.
PLDT’s offer to acquire SkyCable was unsolicited, ABS-CBN head of communications Kane Errol Choa told the Inquirer.
“Withdrawing their bid is their prerogative. This has no impact on the operations of SkyCable,” he said.
PLDT told the Philippine Stock Exchange in September it was evaluating options on a potential SkyCable deal.
The buyout of SkyCable, which has a sizable home broadband internet business, would have boosted PLDT’s own expansion in media and fixed broadband, where demand is surging amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
It also would have been PLDT’s latest high profile transaction after it joined forces with rival Globe Telecom in 2016 to gain control of the telco assets and frequencies of conglomerate San Miguel Corp. The PCC is also seeking to review that deal and the case is pending before the Supreme Court.
PLDT is in a stronger financial position this year despite the global health crisis and is poised to exceed earnings in 2019, according to Pangilinan.
The company announced core profit from January to September at P21 billion, up 8 percent, while service revenues grew 9 percent to P126.6 billion.
Its consumer wireless business alone grew 15 percent to P60.8 billion. At the same time, enterprise revenues gained 6 percent to P30.9 billion while home internet sales rose 10 percent to P30.3 billion.
Pangilinan pointed to heavy investment on its network that sustained the company’s growth across its business segments. PLDT is expected to spend about P70 billion this year in capital expenses.
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