PLDT sells Netopia Internet café business to IPVG group


Posted at Dec 21 2010 08:29 AM | Updated as of Dec 22 2010 02:30 AM

MANILA, Philippines - ePLDT, the wholly subsidiary of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) has sold its 75% stake in the operator of the Netopia chain of Internet cafés to IPVG Corp.’s gaming unit.

The company did not disclose the amount involved in the share purchase agreement with gaming publisher IP E-Games Ventures, Inc.

“The transaction is subject to a 45-day due diligence period and certain closing conditions,” PLDT said in a disclosure yesterday.

ePLDT, the information and communications technology arm of PLDT, owned three-quarters of Digital Paradise, Inc., a company formed nearly a decade ago following the PLDT group’s entry into the Netopia chain in 2001 with a P24-million investment.

On its Web site, Netopia says it was founded in 1996 as “a private gaming room where friends could pit their eye-hand coordination skills against each other.”

“The original Katipunan branch opened its doors to the public in January 1997. By sheer word of mouth, Netopia effortlessly attracted a wave of loyal and happy customers,” it said.

Netopia’s Web site says it has 76 company-owned and 36 franchised Internet cafés located mostly in malls and school perimeters.

“Netopia serves over 1.5 million customers monthly, 80% of which are from ages 16 to 35,” the Web site says.

In a previous disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, PLDT said ePLDT’s service revenues slid by 1% to P7.9 billion from January to September this year. ePLDT’s results were particularly hit by the appreciation of the peso, with 70% of revenues being dollar-denominated.

“Had the peso remained stable, service revenues for the period would have increased by 3% year on year,” the company’s disclosure said.

ePLDT’s revenues accounted for 7% of PLDT’s consolidated revenues.

The firm recently reorganized its businesses for “better focus” and a maximized scale.

Subsidiary ePLDT Ventus, which operates the company’s call centers, and SPi Technologies, its business process outsourcing unit, have combined operations and is now known as SPi Global Solutions.

Meanwhile, the Vitro Data Center and Internet and online gaming operations will remain housed under ePLDT.

PLDT’s reported consolidated net income inched up by 7% to P32 billion for the nine-month period that ended September compared with the same period in 2009.

Third-quarter net profit was flat from 2009.

The PLDT group’s service revenues declined by 1% to P106.7 billion from January to September in 2010, following a 2% dip in the third quarter to P34.6 billion.

Mediaquest Holdings, Inc., a unit of the Beneficial Trust Fund of PLDT, has a minority stake in BusinessWorld.