PLDT OKs addt’l investments in media units

Aya Lowe
PLDT's board approved ePLDT's investments in print and TV media assets

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) said unit ePLDT will invest P1.95 billion to own 100% economic interest in the firm that holds the group’s print media investments.

PLDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said the board of the country’s largest telecommunications firm approved ePLDT’s infusion in Hastings Holdings, which owns stakes in Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star and BusinessWorld.

The move will essentially remove one layer of ownership.

“The objective is to make the media assets more visible to shareholders of PLDT. Because before those assets were under the ownership of MediaQuest,” PLDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said. 

MediaQuest Holdings, is a wholly owned unit of PLDT’s Beneficial Trust Fund. Under MediaQuest are 3 units – Hastings, television network TV5 and MediaScape Inc., which owns pay TV provider CignalTV.

Hastings owns 30% of BusinessWorld, 10% of Philippine Star and 18% of the Inquirer, according to PLDT President Napoleon Nazareno.

“The two major broadsheets are making money. BusinessWorld tends to be similar to a patient in a hospital sometimes they make money sometimes they don’t,” said Pangalinan.

When asked why he decided to invest in print media, Pangilinan said: “The Philippines is not quite there in terms of the US where the print industry and has been under pressure and some of them have gone instinct. Here, it will survive in some shape and form.”

Other media assets

At the same time, PLDT’s board approved P3.6-billion investment by ePLDT for a 40% economic interest in SatVentures Inc., which owns a residual 60% economic interest in MediaScape. SatVentures sold part of MediaScape (formerly GV Broadcasting System) to MediaQuest in 2007.

Previously, ePLDT invested P6 billion in MediaQuest Philippine Depositary Receipts. 

The investments are part of PLDT’s strategy to diversify its business through new services and increase its ability to deliver multimedia content to its customers across the groups’ broadband and mobile networks.

In December, PLDT announced it was mulling additional investments after the telecom company’s talks with TV5 rival, GMA Network Inc., fell through.

“Since the purchase didn’t work we will focus on the build strategy which is other components of MediaQuest,” Nazareno earlier told reporters. –