Ex-Smart exec to join Liberty Telecoms

Business Mirror

Posted at Feb 02 2009 02:31 PM | Updated as of Feb 02 2009 10:35 PM

Liberty Telecoms Holdings Inc. is tapping the expertise of former Smart Communications Inc. marketing whiz Anastacio Martirez to be the company’s chief operating officer.

Liberty informed the stock exchange last week that the appointment of Martirez will take effect on February 4.

Martirez begged off from being interviewed, saying it was too soon for him to give any statement because his appointment has yet to take effect.

Industry players are keeping a tight watch on Liberty ’s entry into the highly competitive cellular and wireless broadband markets after announcements were made that Qatar’s dominant telephone service provider, Qatar Telecom, acquired a substantial stake in Liberty.

Besides QTel for a partner, San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is also coming into the picture. Both parties are working on a joint-venture partnership to take over Liberty. SMC president Ramon Ang had been elected chairman of Liberty.

Liberty is valuable for its broadband frequencies. It is the only phone firm that was able to corner nearly 100 megahertz of frequency spectrum in its many years in the business.

But operations were suspended in 2005 due to mounting financial problems. It later filed for corporate rehabilitation before the Makati Regional Trial Court.

Industry stakeholders, meanwhile, welcomed QTel’s entry into Liberty.

“It’s a free market,” said telco executive Manuel Pangilinan, chairman of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT).

PLDT president Napoloen Nazareno said competition is always good for the industry. “We will continue to invest on what we have now. We will plan it from there,” he said, when asked if the phone giant was ever threatened by Liberty’s comeback now that it has QTel and SMC as partners.

Globe Telecom said the same. It vowed to continue offering valuable telco services while keeping a close watch at its competitors.  -- L. Lectura