(UPDATE) PLDT unit says in talks to acquire Star

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 29 2009 03:24 PM | Updated as of Jan 30 2009 01:17 AM

MediaQuest Holdings Inc., a unit of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), confirmed Thursday it was in talks for the possible acquisition of the Philippine Star group of publications.

In a statement, MediaQuest chief technology officer Jose Benjamin Fernandez said the company "is in discussions with the Philippine Star Group for a possible investment."

Quoting sources who supposedly knew about the deal, The Manila Standard Today reported that PLDT had already bought a majority share in the Philippine Star from the Belmonte family.

But PLDT denied the report Thursday morning in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange.

MediaQuest is the media arm of the PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund, a private fund controlled by PLDT that would guarantee the payment of certain benefits due retiring employees of the telecommunications service provider.

It has interests in various media-related ventures, including the Nation Broadcasting Corp., which operates a network of radio stations, and direct-to-home service provider 360media. MediaQuest also has minority interest in Central CATV, which owns Sky Cable, and a 30 percent interest in BusinessWorld.

The Philippine Star group, on the other hand, owns The Philippine Star newspaper and the Freeman, which circulates in Cebu, plus several tabloids.

The paper, set up by the Belmonte family in the wake of the downfall of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, is one of the country's leading broadsheet newspapers. With a report from AFP