UK's Vodafone may enter PH as 3rd telco

MANILA, Philippines – British telecommunications firm Vodafone may enter the Philippines as the country's third telco player, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno announced on Wednesday, October 3.

In his weekly briefing, Diokno said Philippine economic managers met with Vodafone to "explore possibilities" during their visit in the United Kingdom last week.

"They have the capability. They can actually join with somebody else but they are very careful in the use of their name," Diokno said.

"They have been used by Smart or Globe for a very small project but they don't want that kind of arrangement anymore. They want to come in – in a big way. Not only as a minor partner of an existing telco," Diokno added.

Diokno clarified, however, that Vodafone has yet to send an official expression of interest. Selection documents will be out on Monday, October 8, allowing potential participants to craft their offers.

"They are doing their due diligence. There's no expression of intent or EOI yet. So let's just wait," he said.

Diokno added that the telco giant does not want to enter "shady deals."

The budget chief disclosed that among those discussed with Vodafone were the ease of doing business in the country and the proposed 11th Regular Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) which would allow telecommunications, among others, to be fully owned by foreign entities.

Under the 1987 Constitution, foreign firms interested to enter as a public utility provider need to team up with local firms. The Constitution states that Filipinos must own 60% of a telco, limiting foreign ownership to 40%.

The FINL was submitted 4 months ago. It is now up for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature.

In August, there were at least 7 foreign companies which expressed interest in becoming the country's third telco provider.  (LOOK: DICT draft rules on selection of 3rd telco player)

Duterte wanted the next player to be up and running by the first quarter of 2018. However, the Department of Information and Communications Technology is now aiming for December of this year to name the bid winner. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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