The Business Mirror newspaper reports that Bayantel Telecommunications Inc (Bayan) settled PHP536 million (USD12.2 million) worth of debts last month, bringing to PHP7.274 billion the total debt made by the Lopez-controlled group since it underwent rehabilitation in July 2004. As part of its obligations under the plan, the telco pays interest on its debt every quarter. Bayan’s own filings show it settled a total of PHP791 million in principal and PHP556 million in interest payments last year – or PHP1.347 billion in total. Further, between 2004 and 2010 the operator paid its various creditors PHP2.011 billion (principal) and PHP3.915 billion (interest), or PHP5.926 billion in total. Overall, Bayan’s total debt spiralled to USD325 million and it is currently planning to pay this off fully by 2023. It is understood around 92% of the company’s total obligations are dollar-denominated.
The Lopez group holds an 85% equity stake in Bayan but classes the communications provider as ‘a non-core business’. It has tried and failed many times to sell off the asset but talks with Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Globe Telecom several years ago faltered as a direct consequence of Bayan labouring under court rehabilitation. Matters did move forward in March last year, however, when Bayan offloaded its wireless in the local loop (WiLL) assets to MultiMedia Telephony Inc (MTI).