MANILA, Philippines – Telco giant PLDT is selling and leasing back a total of 5,907 telco towers for P77 billion, it announced on Tuesday, April 19.
PLDT chairman Manny Pangilinan led the signing ceremonies to sell the towers and related infrastructure to subsidiaries of Kuala Lumpur-based edotco Group and US-headquartered EdgePoint Infrastructure.
In 2021, PLDT announced that it was considering the sale of some of its towers, with Bloomberg reporting a potential $800-million or $1-billion deal for the telco. Tuesday’s announcement placed the total price tag at about $1.5 billion.
PLDT said it still owns the antennas, remote radios, microwave dishes, and fiber backhaul at the sites.
According to the disclosure, ISOC edotco Towers is acquiring 2,973 towers across the Philippines, while EdgePoint’s Comworks Infratech Corporation will get 2,934 towers located in Luzon.
The closing process is expected to begin by the end of May. PLDT targets to conclude the process by the third or fourth quarter of the year.
Upon completion of the landmark deal, PLDT said the two tower companies will become the largest common tower operators in the Philippines.
PLDT wireless arm Smart Communications also signed 10-year lease agreements with the tower companies. These companies will now be on top of the operations and maintenance of the towers.
PLDT said the sale and leaseback will be complemented with a new build commitment of 1,500 towers in the coming years.
PLDT chief finance officer Anabelle Chua told reporters on Tuesday that P27.5 billion of the total proceeds will be spent on debt repayments and some P24.5 billion will go to other cash requirements and investments in network infrastructure.
Chua added that PLDT will release special dividends of up to P9 billion because of the sale. The telco estimates savings on financing costs at P2.6 billion per year.
“The big win is the ability of PLDT to dispose of these towers. In the first instance, we realize significant gains on the books flowing from the price to the net book value which is something to the order of P50 billion,” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan added that the deal will translate to significant “earnings accretion each year.”
“Not all of it is recognizable upfront in its entirety, but it will translate significant book gain in the company. We will be able to write off certain assets and, therefore, reduce depreciation charge every year and number two, the significant cash that will enter PLDT,” Pangilinan said. – Rappler.com
$1 = P52.43