NTC starts evaluating telco deal

By Lenie Lectura, Business Mirror

Posted at Jul 29 2011 07:04 AM | Updated as of Jul 29 2011 09:48 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) started evaluating on Thursday the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.’s (PLDT) application to acquire a majority stake in rival Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc. (Digitel), the agency’s chief said.

“The memorandum from Globe was already submitted. I think all memoranda are in already. It’s now time to start the evaluation,” NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said in an interview.

Globe Telecom Inc. is the leading oppositor in the application jointly filed by PLDT and Digitel and is asking the NTC concessions should the regulators approved the deal. Among those mentioned by Globe are the recall and reallocation of PLDT’s frequencies; the implementation of an Internet protocol peering policy; and requiring PLDT to interconnect with Globe in provincial areas.

Other oppositors are Eastern Telecommunications Philippines Inc. and consumer advocacy groups TXTPower.Org Inc., and Txtm8.

PLDT’s planned acquisition of JG Summit Holding’s 51.55% in Digitel was announced in March. The transaction is valued at P69.2 billion and would boost PLDT’s market share to 70% should the deal pushes
through. Globe said this would lead to a virtual monopoly.

“Everything is being taken into consideration, including inputs from our legal department and evidence submitted by all parties. The review will take no more than two or three weeks,” Cordoba said.

PLDT has already missed the June 30 deadline to finalize the deal that would give it control of Digitel. PLDT Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said it was extending the deadline for another 30 days or until July 30 but this won’t be met, given that hearings at the NTC were just recently concluded.

The deal needs the NTC approval. PLDT and Digitel must also secure certain approvals from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Philippine Stock Exchange.

PLDT obtained its shareholders’ approval on June 14, when they voted overwhelmingly in favor of the telecom company’s investment in Digitel during the annual stockholders’ meeting.

Cordoba said all the witnesses presented by the applicants and those opposed have been presented and cross-examined. NTC commissioners have started deliberations on the matter.

Pangilinan had said JG Summit officials would be consulted should there be a need to further extend the deadline.