The telecoms arm of Filipino diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp (SMC) has acquired Eastern Telecommunications Philippines Inc. (ETPI), a telco owned by the Ongpin group, in a move it hopes will increase its network and coverage, and maximise synergies with its existing telecoms operation. In a filing to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), SMC confirmed that ISM Communications Corp has sold 100% of the issued and outstanding capital of AGN Philippines Inc to Vega Telecom – a subsidiary of SMC. AGNP was the registered and beneficial owner of about 40% of ETPI, which provides data and internet services to more than 5,000 corporate subscribers and SMEs. In addition, ETPI is in the process of deploying a 240km fibre-optic network to serve industrial parks and economic zones in Tagaytay, Cavite, Laguna and Batangas, it said. Earlier, Eric Recto, ISM’s president and CEO, had said his firm planned to sell its 77% equity stake in ETPI.
SMC is also understood to be in the throes of acquiring Express Telecommunications Inc (Extelcom) from the Ongpin group and UK-based Ashmore Investment Management Ltd, which in turn are buying out Extelcom’s creditors. Extelcom is undergoing corporate rehabilitation with debts amounting to more than PHP9 billion. If completed, SMC’s stable will comprise three local telcos, including ETPI and Liberty Telecoms Holdings Inc, in which it holds 41.48% (with a view to upping this to 49%). Qatar-based Qtel had also acquired a 27.12% stake in Liberty through its subsidiary wi-Tribe.