GMA-PLDT deal this year or none at all - Gozon

By Miguel R. Camus, BusinessMirror

Posted at Aug 01 2012 06:52 AM | Updated as of Aug 01 2012 02:56 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A top official of GMA Network Inc. continues to play his cards close to his chest on the buyout offer lodged by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan. But one thing is clear, said Felipe Gozon, part owner of GMA and its current chairman and chief executive officer: A deal should happen this year or none at all.

“I don’t think it will go beyond this year. It will either terminate or go through this year. That is too long to be talking already,” he told reporters following the company’s fifth listing anniversary in Makati City.

Pangilinan, through Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), has offered to acquire GMA, one of the top two television broadcast companies in the country, for an estimated P50 billion to P60 billion, published reports showed earlier. Neither PLDT nor GMA have confirmed these amounts officially.

PLDT, the country’s biggest telecommunications company, already owns TV5 broadcast firm.

Gozon on Tuesday declined to comment on specific details regarding Pangilinan’s offer. He also didn’t comment on discussions with other parties, except to say that talks at the moment only involve Pangilinan’s group.

“We are not peddling GMA for sale. Somebody wanted to buy and we attended to it. There is no plan B, no plan C, no plan D,” said Gozon, who controls GMA together with the Duavit and Jimenez families.

“We are ready, prepared and willing to continue running the station [in case the talks fail],” Gozon said.

Pangilinan earlier stated that acquiring GMA is part of PLDT’s convergence strategy that will see “pure delivery highway” like telecommunications companies eventually become obsolete if they do not merge with media firms that provide content.

Gozon agreed that convergence is inevitable and said GMA, under its current management, will continue to provide “quality content.”

“It’s the content that drives utilization of the highway but it has to be good quality content. You are going to compete in a wider field because of multiplication of platforms,” he said on Tuesday.

GMA, meanwhile, is on track to hit its full-year net income target of P2.8 billion to P3 billion this year, Gozon said. GMA’s net income fell 39 percent to P1.7 billion last year.

“This second half is going to be far better than 2011,” he said, citing early effects from political-related advertisements. GMA shares declined 0.78 percent to P10.20 each on Tuesday, giving it a market value of P34.2 billion.