MANILA, Philippines – The group of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is preparing its financial arsenal for the cash purchase of a controlling stake in GMA Network Inc., the country’s second largest media group.
“We are talking to our bankers,” Panglinan told reporters on Wednesday, July 12, when asked how the group will finance the planned acquisition that is part of its plan to have media assets side-by-side its telecommunications businesses.
Pangilinan chairs TV5, the third largest media network in the country, as well as telecommunications giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT).
“We would like to put it more in cash… We are preparing for that in the event it materializes,” said Pangilinan.
The loan arrangements for the anticipated business deal, reported to be worth P52.5 billion for an 80% stake in GMA-7, is on top of the recent sale.
PLDT sold the entire 27% stake of its wholly-owned unit ePLDT in online gaming firm PhilWeb Corp for P4.25 billion.
PLDT president Napoleon Nazareno said the Philweb sale is part of the group’s “asset repositioning for more efficient funding of future capital expenditure and investments.”
This Philweb sale will be completed before the year ends. Pangilinan also said the GMA-7 purchase, which will be in made in cash, will be completed before end-2012.
Corporate vehicles: PLDT or Mediaquest
Pangilinan also said that, if and when the deal is sealed, the investment will be made either through PLDT
or MediaQuest Holdings Inc., the media holding company of the PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund.
MediaQuest was the corporate vehicle of the Pangilinan group when it acquired stakes in TV5, as well as minority stakes in broadsheets, including BusinessWorld.
“It maybe a yes or no. I think that PLDT could pick up the PDRs (Philippine depository receipts),” Pangilinan said when asked if the investment will be made via MediaQuest.
Last May, PLDT, through wholly-owned subsidiary ePLDT, announced it was investing P6 billion in the form of PDRs in MediaQuest to sustain the growth momentum of TV5 and Cignal TV.
Pangilinan said he hopes to close an investment deal with the families of Gozon, Jimenez and Duavit before the year ends.
“It is still under discussion. That timetable is beyond our control. That’s what we would like to see but it’s beyond our control because we have to go through both houses of Congress and subject to approval of the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission),” said Pangilinan.
Content and telco
Nazareno stressed that traditional telecommunications in other countries are transforming themselves, too, into a multi-media service company. The acquisition of media assets is part of that strategy.
“PLDT has a choice of strategically staying as a telco highway providing access. As you know technology on the access side of telcos are also changing drastically. At the same time, the layer above us which belongs to the internet, social media dominated by the Facebook, Google, among others is something we perceived to be a threat in the long term.
“So, we thought of getting into the content production layer and integrate the highway with content production,” said Pangilinan when asked of the value of its future investment in GMA7 despite already having TV5 on board,” Nazareno said. – Rappler.com
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