telecommunications companies

PLDT probing P48-billion budget overrun, revamps management

Ralf Rivas
PLDT probing P48-billion budget overrun, revamps management
PLDT's investigation has, so far, not uncovered fraud or procurement anomalies due to the P48-billion budget overrun

MANILA, Philippines – Telco giant PLDT has revamped its ranks following a P48-billion budget overrun of its network and infrastructure projects in the last four years.

In a stock exchange filing on Friday, December 16, PLDT said that its multiyear capex projects – which included an LTE and 5G rollout, fiber rollout, submarine cable expansions, towers upgrades, and other projects – have reached P379 billion from 2019 to 2022.

Of the amount, P48 billion was considered a budget overrun or actual expenses that exceeded the planned budget. The said budget overrun was 12.7% of the total capex spend over the period.

PLDT said it is undergoing management reorganization and is working on its processes and systems to “address weaknesses” that allowed such budget overruns to occur. The company said a separate announcement would be made for the reorganization.

“The investigation has, so far, not uncovered any fraudulent transactions, procurement anomalies, or loss of assets arising from the capex spend,” PLDT said.

The Pangilinan-led company added that it is conducting internal forensics mandated by the board and audit committee, and is discussing with principal vendors to reconcile accounts and reduce the cost overruns.

It also told shareholders that major revenue streams, including its wireless, home, and enterprise businesses, “remain healthy and robust.”

“These three business units are unaffected by the capex overrun…. EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) for the full year 2022 is within guidance levels of P100 billion, as is core income at between P32-33 billion,” PLDT said.

PLDT added that the budget overrun was mitigated by the gains from its P77-billion tower sale and leaseback agreement.

The company’s capex for 2023 will remain elevated as capex overruns enter the financial statements for 2022 and 2023. But capex levels are expected to be lower 2024 onwards.

Shares of PLDT fell 4.09% on Friday. The company disclosed the news after trading hours. –Rappler.com

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.