PLDT mulls sale of towers

MANILA, Philippines — PLDT Inc. is considering selling some of its towers which will not affect its leadership in the country’s telecommunications space.

“We are starting the process of considering what to do with the towers. We’ve spoken to a number of international banks and they’ve enlightened us on the advantages of selling part of our towers,” PLDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said in an online briefing yesterday.

Pangilinan said discussions with the banks have led the company to change its mind on the potential sale of its towers.

“The ruling principle that guided our reluctance to let go of any our network elements is because we have the most extensive and best network in the country, so you wouldn’t want to let that go because it could open yourselves to competition, and competition is getting tougher,” he said.

“So in our discussions with the banks, I think they managed to persuade us that if we were to let go of certain number of our towers that are not strategic to maintaining our position as a dominant network in this country, then I think that has led us to think that maybe we should be open to it. And for so long as the financial case is compelling to PLDT,” he said.

From a purely financial transaction, Pangilinan said the sale could also translate to a significant financial gain for PLDT.

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“The job now is to identify those towers which are not quite strategic to what we want to achieve,” he said.

Bloomberg earlier reported that the disposal of towers could be worth about $800 million.

However, PLDT officials yesterday said nothing has been decided yet, including how many towers would be sold.

“We haven’t decided on any of that yet. Give us a few weeks or few months then we’ll have more definite update on these things,” PLDT and Smart Communications president and CEO Alfredo Panlilio said.

So far, PLDT has already contracted 10 tower companies with respect to its requirements for new sites.

“That’s close to a thousand sites for 10 tower companies,” PLDT chief finance officer Anabelle Chua said.

“Tower companies generally become more and more active and part of the landscape in this country. It’s no longer just the operators building out. I think the tower companies are serious in doing business here. Obviously the landscape could get changed in the future, there may be a bit of consolidation, but I think the thinking is on the basis that tower companies are here to stay in the country,” she said.

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