November 21, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

PLDT Capital looking at ‘interesting’ acquisitions

PLDT, Inc.’s investment arm will review its portfolio and make some “interesting” acquisitions next year, its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Manuel V. Pangilinan said.

This, as gains from PLDT Capital’s recent deals to sell its remaining stake in Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and SPi Global Holdings, Inc will be used to manage debt and partly fund its capital expenditures this year.

“PLDT Capital [is] okay naman. Nothing needs much to be done kasi di ba nabenta yung Meralco shares and yung SPi, so we have enough gains and cash coming from those two transactions to reduce debts and help out in the capex (capital expenditures),”Mr. Pangilinan told reporters in a recent interview.

“Maybe next year, we’ll have to revisit the portfolio. Most likely there will be some [acquisitions], hindi naman malalaki yun. Some interesting opportunities,” he added, without disclosing further details about the planned acquisition.

In 2015, PLDT announced the creation of Silicon Valley-based PLDT Capital to scout for investments and establish business partnerships in mobile technology, software, digital media content and entertainment.

Some of PLDT’s earlier acquisitions included Rocket Internet SE, a German investor in technology start-ups, where the telco giant invested €333 million (around $362 million) for a 10% stake in the firm in August 2014. In October 2014, Rocket Internet went public, which effectively diluted PLDT’s stake, which now stands at roughly 6%.

PLDT Capital also announced in 2015 that it entered a partnership with US-based developer of mobile applications Phunware, Inc., for $10 million (around P460 million).

Meanwhile, Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) increased its interest in Meralco and Global Business Power Corp. (Global Power) in May after acquiring the PLDT group’s remaining stake in Beacon Electric Asset Holdings -- who owns 35% of the country’s biggest electricity distributor Meralco and 57% of power generation firm Global Power -- for P21.8 billion.

Mr. Pangilinan earlier said the divestment of the Beacon investment would help the telecommunications giant focus on its core businesses.

PLDT also during that month said it is selling its remaining stake in business process outsourcing (BPO) provider SPi to Swiss investment firm Partners Group as part of a $330-million deal.

For this year, PLDT budgeted P46 billion for capex, inclusive of “carry-overs” from 2016 for its continuing digital pivot. This year’s capex will be used for its ongoing comprehensive network modernization and expansion program, which will see an increase in fixed line spending.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.

Shares in PLDT gained P5 or 0.29% to close at P1,725 each on Monday. -- ICCD