MVP reveals investment plans of PLDT (Business Mirror (Philippines))

PHILIPPINE Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan simply smiled when asked to comment on Globe Telecom Inc.’s stellar performance in the first quarter of 2015.

During that period, the second- largest telecommunications com-

pany in the country reported net income totaling P4.2 billion, or a 43-percent surge from P2.95 billion the year prior.

The dominant telecommunications and multimedia provider, on the other hand, reported flattish profits of P9.4 billion in the first three months of 2015.

Instead of feeling bad for playing second fiddle to its No.1 competitor, Pangilinan seemed even excited about it.

What is not to be excited about if one’s firm expanding its businesses through the acquisition of shares from roughly 10 multinational peers?

PLDT, its chairman said, has laid out a multiyear investment plan in the Internet space. We have a list of investment of opportunities in the Internet. It’s a whole range of Internet possibilities from IT countries such as the US, Europe, and some part of Asia, Pangilinan said.

The strategy, he said, will help the telecommunications titan get back on its feet and rightfully claim its place in the sector, which is now shifting from the so-called legacy to the digital space.

Clearly, any telco has got to engage in the Internet now, they cannot not participate in the Internet space beyond providing the connectivity or access. So we’ve determined that we will participate or engage in any one or more of three ways, he explained. The three ways the business-

man alluded to include, first, partnering with over-the-top content providers such as Facebook, Twitter and Viber, among others.

Second is to make investments in Internet companies like what we did in Rocket Internet and iflix, he said. Third is to develop our own apps like SafeZone, PayMaya, which are indigenous, native apps developed by the group.

The company has a 6.1-percent share in Berlin-based Rocket Internet. Despite being diluted from 10 percent, the value of the shares now stands at €443.3 million, some 33 percent more than PLDT’s original €333- million investment. The partnership enables both companies to venture into partnerships in the e-commerce arena.

The Filipino telecommunications giant and the German Internet company are also partners at the Philippines Internet Group, a firm that focuses on creating and developing online businesses in the Philippines.

PLDT invested €30 million to own a third of the company. Under the terms of the transaction, Voyager Innovations Inc., a unit of the largest telecommunication firm in the Philippines, has the option to hike its 33.3-percent stake in the company to 50 percent.

The telecommunications giant also infused

an initial $15 million in iflix, a Malay-sian entertainment company which aims to launch an Internet television service in Southeast Asia throughout 2015.

The amount represents half of the total investment needed by iflix, a partnership between disruptive Malaysian entrepreneurs and Hollywood heavyweights that plans to be Southeast Asia’s leading Internet TV service.

Aiming to stimulate Internet usage in the Philippines and across the Asean, the Malaysian entertainment company will offer subscribers with unlimited access to thousands of hours of entertainment at a very affordable price.

Launching in key Southeast Asian markets, including Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam throughout 2015, iflix will offer consumers more than 10,000 hours of top US, Asian regional, and local TV shows and movies. Each subscription will allow a user to access the service on five devices, as well as download content to their mobile, tablet, computer, or television set, for viewing anywhere, anytime.

All these, Pangilinan said, would hopefully translate to higher gains and better services. After all, the telecommunications giant still has the most robust and most advanced network in the Philippines.

It has set a core income guidance of P35 billion for 2015, a bit lower than the one booked in 2014 due to lower earnings and higher financial costs.

Shares of PLDT settled at P2,850 apiece on Friday.