Manny Pangilinan

Wanted: Manny Pangilinan’s replacement

Ralf Rivas

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Wanted: Manny Pangilinan’s replacement

TYCOON. Manny Pangilinan chats with business reporters after PLDT's press briefing on March 9, 2024.

Ralf Rivas/Rappler

Manny Pangilinan is looking for someone much younger and with an excellent business sense to replace him as PLDT chief

PLDT chairman, president, and CEO Manny Pangilinan is still looking for his successor. 

The 77-year-old has led PLDT since 1998 and has been meaning to pass the baton for some time now. He already stepped down as the telco giant’s big boss in 2021, only to assume the post again in 2024 after his successor, Al Panlilio, resigned due to health reasons

In a recent press briefing, Pangilinan said that PLDT management is still in the process of looking for one, noting that the successor must have a sharp business sense. That person also needs to understand how the other businesses in the MVP group interact and relate with each other.

Pangilinan said they are careful about choosing the next person taking the helm, noting that this “long term decision will affect the company long term.”

“This is not just making an investment or buying an equipment, so no, it’s difficult because you have to look at the future in terms of the successor, I know that he should be younger than I am, much younger, should be steeped in IT, have an excellent business sense,” Pangilinan said.

“At the end of the day, it has to be somebody with a very good nose for business,” he added.

So far, sources said that management is looking at both insiders and outsiders for the role. They are even considering names that are not in the telco industry, but have experience in tech.

New digital entity

Pangilinan also noted that the successor must know about the other businesses under the MVP group, especially now that it recently formed a digital entity that will harness the data assets of the various companies in the conglomerate.

Digico, a collaboration co-owned by PLDT, Smart, the Manila Electric Company, and Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, will use a tech platform to “scale up and achieve seamless integration of services and capabilities.”

Pangilinan also detailed how Digico will consolidate the group’s multiple payment channels for a more seamless and secure experience for customers and businesses.


The next CEO must also sustain PLDT’s profitability. In 2023, net income more than doubled to P26.6 billion, mainly due to a decline in expenses and stable top-line growth.

Revenues and core income posted just single-digit growth at 3%, which Pangilinan described as the telco industry’s “pain” in recent years.

“We’re stuck in terms of the growth story, so the telco that is able to develop the next great big idea to achieve escape velocity would be the winner,” Pangilinan said.

Will it be 5G, artificial intelligence, or internet of things that will bring elusive double-digit growth?

Those are some of the challenges that Pangilinan’s successor will have to face. –

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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.