Bourse to probe sell-off in PLDT shares before firm’s disclosure
The Philippine Stock Exchange will investigate the trading activity on shares of PLDT Inc.— the oldest blue chip stock on the bourse—after regulators noticed heavy selling minutes before the market closed last Friday and about an hour before a P48-billion financial anomaly within the telecommunications firm was officially disclosed to the investing public.
Speaking to the Inquirer, PSE president Ramon Monzon said the bourse would coordinate its probe with the Capital Market Integrity Corp., a multi sectoral watchdog that is responsible for preventing, investigating and penalizing trading malpractices in financial markets.
“We saw what happened, and we want to know why that happened,” he said. “We will talk to all the parties involved.”
Monzon was referring to the 4.5-percent decline in PLDT’s share price in the last few minutes of trading last Friday. That sell-off brought PLDT’s price down from P1,548 to P1,478 just four minutes later, wiping off over P18 billion in market capitalization during that short span of time.
Roughly an hour later, at 3:50 p.m., PLDT released a disclosure to the bourse saying that it had uncovered billions of pesos worth of capital expenditure “budget overruns” incurred over the last four years.
The PSE chief said the bourse would also like greater clarity from PLDT about the effect that its recent discovery of undocumented purchase orders would have on the firm’s financial statements of past years.
Also a potential sticking point is the fact that PLDT chief financial officer Annabelle Chua also sits on the board of the PSE representing the telecommunications giant. A source said she continued to participate in the board meetings of the bourse these last couple of months—including the most recent one this December—despite her possible involvement in PLDT’s financial anomalies.
Friday’s sharp sell-off pushed PLDT—which was originally incorporated in 1928 —out of the top 10 most valuable listed companies in the country. But even at 11th place with a market capitalization of P319.3 billion, PLDT is still the largest telecommunications firm in the Philippines by value.