Filipino mobile operator Smart Communications, a unit of the country’s dominant fixed line player Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT), has paid PHP419.54 million (USD10 million) to acquire 100% of both PH Communications Holdings Corp and Francom Holdings Inc from an investment vehicle led by the country’s former trade secretary, Roberto Ongpin. The two groups own 96.76% and 3.43% respectively of another Filipino wireless start-up, Connectivity Unlimited Resource Enterprise (CURE), which won the Philippines’ fourth 3G operating licence in December 2005. A report from ABS-CBNNEWS says that CURE, which was awarded 10MHz of spectrum in the 2100MHz band, hopes to launch services next month.
In September 2006 CURE said it planned to raise its authorised capital to PHP2 billion (USD39.83 million) to help fund its 3G network build, although at the time it did not divulge its rollout timetable. Following the buyout, Smart says it intends to directly invest up to PHP210 million in CURE in the form of new share subscriptions in the company. The fresh funds will be used for working capital. Commenting on the deal, a spokesperson for Smart said: ‘The acquisition dovetails with Smart’s previously announced plan to provide expanded and enhanced 3G services nationwide, including higher speed wireless broadband services … CURE is envisioned to provide Smart with a platform to offer and provide differentiated 3G services for niche markets.’