MVP group buys control of Philippine Star

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(UPDATED) The PLDT group now owns 51% of The Philippine Star after a deal with the Belmonte family

SEALED. The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company group acquires a majority stake in The Philippine Star from the Belmonte family

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The group of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan sealed a deal giving it control of broadsheet The Philippine Star.

On Monday, March 31, Pangilinan announced that the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) signed a deal with the family of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. for an additional 40% stake in Star to bring its interest to 60%. Pangilinan disclosed this on the sidelines of the signing of the concession agreement for the new MRT-LRT ticketing system.

He said they closed the deal on March 28 and PLDT made the initial payment Monday. He declined to give other details such as the value of the transaction.

Prior to the deal, PLDT, through Mediaquest Holdings Inc., owned around 20% of Star. The Belmonte family held 51%.

In an interview late Monday, however, Star president and CEO Miguel Belmonte clarified that the Pangilinan group acquired just an additional 30%, bringing its stake to about 51%.

Miguel said their family’s stake was diluted to 21%. He added, “we will retain management and editorial control” of the newspaper.

The Belmontes have been running Star since it was founded in 1986.

Miguel earlier said that the PLDT group was negotiating with their family and other shareholders for up to about 80% of Star. The acquisition talks also involved Star affiliates – tabloid company Pilipino Star, printing company Pilipino Star Printing, and Internet company Philstar Global. (READ: Why Star owners want to sell to MVP

PLDT has been snapping up media assets in a bid to transform itself into a “multimedia service company” that offers telecommunications services and content. (READ: MVP: Telcos will be obsolete; social media is the future)

Aside from Star, the PLDT group also controls BusinessWorld, where it recently raised its stake to 70% from 30%, and owns 12% of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. (Ed’s note: We earlier said that PLDT still held a minority interest in BusinessWorld. We regret the error.) The group also owns Associated Broadcasting Corporation, the company that operates the TV5 network; Nation Broadcasting Corporation; and cable provider Cignal Digital TV. These media assets are held by Mediaquest, owned by PLDT’s Beneficial Trust Fund.  –

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