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Andanar: South Korea's LG interested in being 3rd telco player

Aside from China Telecom, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told DWIZ radio on Tuesday that Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, which was in talks with a South Korean telecom firm, was also interested to be a new telecom provider. File

MANILA, Philippines — LG Uplus Corp, South Korea's third-largest mobile carrier, is eyeing to be the Philippines’ third telecom player that will challenge a longstanding duopoly that has angered consumers in a nation said to have the slowest internet speed in the Asia Pacific.

In an interview with DZBB radio on Friday, Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Martin Andanar revealed that a “source” told him that LG is the Korean firm that is in talks with Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp.

“So this will be very exciting," Andanar said.

A third telecom provider is targeted to be up and running by the first quarter of 2018.

Formerly known as LG Telecom, LG Uplus' services include personal mobile services, business solution services, and global roaming phone rentals, among others.

Under the Constitution, foreign investors are only allowed up to 40 percent on certain businesses and industries. Hence, LG will need to seek a local partner, and will require the approval of the Philippine Competition Commission for a joint venture.

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To recall, PT&T earlier confirmed that the company is in an “advanced stage” of discussions on a partnership deal with a South Korean telecom firm, which PT&T has yet to identify.

“Disclosure will be made as soon as an agreement has been finalized with the South Korean telecom firm,” PT&T said, adding that talks are bound by a non-disclosure agreement.

READ: Philippines identifies second choice for third telecom player

In November last year, President Rodrigo Duterte invited China to be his country’s third telecom provider. Beijing later picked China Telecom to invest in the Philippines, backed by a consortium of Filipino businesses.

PT&T earlier said it had also met with representatives of China Telecom, but “no material developments since then.”

Duterte had threatened incumbent providers PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc. with new competition from China if they do not shape up.

Last year, PLDT and Globe together agreed to buy conglomerate San Miguel Corp. out of the sector for $1.5 billion, pledging to invest heavily to boost internet service. The acquisition was the country's biggest corporate transaction in nearly three years.

The Court of Appeals, in a decision dated October 18, ordered the PCC to permanently stop its review of the deal and recognize its validity.

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