MVP: Globe, ABS-CBN are copycats

MANILA, Philippines - TV5 and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan thinks his rivals ABS-CBN Corp. and Globe Telecom Inc. may be taking a page out of his playbook. 

ABS-CBN and Globe are pursuing a convergence strategy to pair television content with the vast infrastructure of a telecommunications firm, just like TV5 and PLDT.

At PLDT's last annual stockholder's meeting, Pangilinan explained that traditional telcos no longer make business sense in the changing digital world and that the company has been moving toward leveraging rich media content.

"I guess where we have moved into the media space, they are moving to where we moved to. I don't know why everyone wants to copy us," said Pangilinan at a business briefing on November 6. 

The businessman, whose empire spans from mining and tollroads to water and electricity joked, "maybe they should invest in mining?"

Last month, Globe CEO Ernest Cu admitted that he was meeting regularly with Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III to discuss potential business strategies.

Ayala-led Globe and Lopez-led Bayan Telecommunications Inc. (BTI) have already agreed to share 10 megahertz of frequencies assigned to BTI which should be expected to expand Globe's network and increase the quality of its overall services. 

And to solidify their partnership, Globe has just offered to buy up to 100% of BTI's debt, paving the way for its planned acquisition of a stake in the company.

As an early mover and a businessman who looks at the big picture, Pangilinan is watching the moves closely and doesn't believe the alliance will stop there. 

"Yes, we heard about Globe's offer for the debt of Bayantel so it just simply confirms that there is something being worked out between their group and I guess the ABS-CBN group. I'm sure it will not stop at the Bayantel level, but perhaps even at the ABS-CBN level. But that's speculation on my part," said Pangilinan. 

"There must be a broader support (or) possibility of a partnership with that branch of the Lopez family," he added.

Pangilinan himself dealt with the Lopez family in two big business purchases in the past: the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) concession and Manila Electric Co. (Meralco). Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp. owns the company that runs the NLEx, and is part-owner, together with PLDT, of Meralco.

The businessman hit a minor hiccup in his convergence plan this year. His plan to gain control of more quality content with the acquisition of television GMA Network fell through after much anticipation. The deal was even expected to help TV5 lower production costs and expand its reach. 

He said he would move forward by strengthening TV5, one of his favorite business units. PLDT and TV5 recently announced that they would work together in the coverage for the 2013 midterm elections.

Pangilinan admitted that the budding partnership between his business rivals could "increase competitive tension." But he said, "We'll just deal with it. If it happens, it happens." - Rappler.com