MVP ready to hang up CEO hat after PLDT posted ‘stellar’ 2020
PLDT Inc. chair and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan said he might soon relinquish day-to-day management of the telco giant after the company recorded “stellar” financial results in 2020, posting historic high revenues backed by growth across all segments.
Pangilinan, in previous interviews, said he would cede the CEO post once PLDT returned to stability and growth in revenues and profitability.
“There is always a time to give up and I think that time is soon,” he said during the company’s full year 2020 briefing on Thursday.
Pangilinan took on the role of CEO in 2016—a period he called PLDT’s “annus horribilis,” or horrible year, as earnings fell and market share was being captured by main rival Globe Telecom.
After four years and a massive network upgrade, PLDT bounced back in 2020 with strong results, led by its flagship wireless segment under Smart Communications, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
PLDT on Thursday announced service revenues last year hit a record P171.5 billion, a gain of 9 percent. Core earnings rose 4 percent to P28.1 billion and were forecast to hit P29 billion to P30 billion in 2021.
Pangilinan has refused to name any successor but in previous interviews said he would recommend a younger, more technology-savvy manager who shared his habits, which often involved working long hours in the office.
‘Ready to die for the job’
He once described that individual as someone who was “ready to die for the job.”
Since 2016, the company has implemented significant upgrades on its mobile business, which grew 15 percent to P82.7 billion last year despite the pandemic.
This was mainly driven by mobile internet, accounting for 75 percent of wireless revenues and the increasing number of smartphone users, with the vast majority now using bandwidth-hungry LTE/4G devices.
PLDT chief revenue officer Al Panlilio, the company’s most senior manager after Pangilinan, said they focused on areas such as their data network and content offerings.
“Providing the best network is the most critical form of support we can offer to enable our customers’ own digital transformation,” Panlilio said.
PLDT said its enterprise segment gained 5 percent to P41.2 billion, while PLDT Home jumped 11 percent to P4.3 billion.
Capital spending, most of which will go to its mobile and fixed-line networks, is also accelerating at a projected P88 billion to P92 billion this year from about P72 billion in 2020.
“Despite PLDT’s stellar performance, it is with great relief that we put 2020 behind us,” Pangilinan said in a statement on Thursday.
“It is tempting to say that we have seen the worst but 2021 comes with its own set of challenges,” he added, referring to the economic downturn and additional threat from competitors such as Dito Telecommunity and Converge ICT Solutions.
Joachim Horn, next generation technology solutions advisor at Smart, explained that Dito’s initial coverage area was limited.
“I would not be too concerned about Dito because we will be always ahead of our network,” Horn said.
“We will not stop looking every day at how we are performing. We are benchmarking ourselves on a regular basis and we want to step forward and we want to lead the industry from a performance perspective,” he added.
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