telecommunications companies

Al Panlilio poised to succeed Manny Pangilinan as PLDT CEO

Aika Rey

NEXT CEO. Al Panlilio, PLDT chief revenue officer and Smart Communications president and CEO, at a basketball briefing in 2018.

Rappler file photo

(UPDATED) Manny Pangilinan plans to stay on as PLDT chairman. He had been on the lookout for a successor since he returned as president and CEO in 2016.

PLDT president and chief executive officer Manny Pangilinan is quitting his post soon, with Al Panlilio poised to be the next top boss of the telecommunications company.

“I will retire as president and CEO and pass the baton over to Al. So I will stay on as chairman, of course, subject to the stakeholders’ consent to do that,” Pangilinan, 74, told reporters on Thursday, May 6.

With the 58-year-old Panlilio as PLDT’s chief revenue officer and Smart Communications president and CEO, the telco joined the few outliers to reach revenue heights during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I simply wish my successor all the best. It’s a great company but it needs a lot of care and feeding. It’s a hungry animal hungry for capital expenditures, which means you have to generate a lot of cash to feed the requirements of the business,” Pangilinan said.

The business magnate said he already has “a year and a number in mind” as to when to retire. In March, Pangilinan already hinted at his retirement plans.

“You know, as the years will pass by, you are physically less effective as you were,” Pangilinan said on Thursday.

In 2016, PLDT chairman Pangilinan took over the president and CEO post again following the retirement of Napoleon Nazareno.

The telco giant has been on the lookout for a new boss for PLDT, but Pangilinan’s main consideration before stepping down is income stability.

For the 1st quarter of 2021, PLDT’s core profit was up by 9% to P7.5 billion, as service revenues rose by 8% to P44.8 billion.

P33.9 billion or 76% of the total service revenues were driven by data and broadband service. Mobile internet revenues grew 13% to P16.5 billion, while home broadband revenues jumped 31% to P9.8 billion.

The subscriber base for broadband grew by 6% to 3.3 million year-on-year, but mobile subscribers were down by 2% at 71.8 million.

“We don’t anticipate the wireless business to show the same percentage in 2021 versus 2020. That is partly because the home broadband has risen that we believe [it] has also taken away some growth from the wireless side,” said Pangilinan.

Overall, the PLDT Group’s subscriber base stood at 78.2 million, 1% lower compared to a year ago, which Pangilinan said was likely due to the lockdown.

“The wireless side has met some headwinds starting this 1st quarter. The growth has slowed down with the lockdown, [Filipinos] losing jobs and affecting disposable income, impeding the growth that we saw in 2020,” Pangilinan said.

“We do hope there is some relaxation of this lockdown in the latter months,” he added. 

The consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization or EBITDA reached an all-time high of P23.3 billion, growing by 7% year-on-year, due to higher service revenues.

For capex investments, PLDT has already spent P20.7 billion, or over a fifth of its target of up to P92 billion for 2021. Operational expenses and subsidies, meanwhile, reached P20 billion.

Pangilinan said the telco’s performance for the 2nd quarter “looks pretty good.”

“Revenues for the 2nd quarter are likely to be similar, if not higher, to the 1st quarter growth that we saw,” he said. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.