Filipino telecoms heavyweight Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) has sourced a USD300 million five-year loan facility from ANZ, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho Corporate Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. According to IFR Asia, unnamed sources told the portal that each bank is providing USD75 million under the deal, with the monies being used to refinance existing debt.
In a related development, PLDT expects to invest a lower amount in its networks and services this year, having recently completed its two-year network modernisation programme. Although officials at the telco refused to divulge the exact level of CAPEX planned for FY13, the Philippine Daily Inquirer claims that the amount will be lower than the PHP33 billion (USD813 million) spent last year. PLDT chairman Manuel V Pangilinan says that his group’s primary objectives are to improve its fixed and mobile broadband access networks. Work is already underway to expand the footprint of its Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile data network, he said. The group’s Smart Communications mobile division was the first cellco in the Philippines to deploy LTE on a commercial basis, he adding.
In addition, Pangilinan said that the telco is also looking to expand its fibre-optic backbone network across the country, which is used to support its wireless, fixed broadband and basic voice telephony services. PLDT now has 54,000km of fibre-optic cables in the Philippines — roughly four times the amount installed by rival Globe Telecom. Finally, the PLDT official said that the telco is hoping to set up a new cable landing station for Philippines, as part of its ongoing involvement in the USD400 million Asia Submarine-Cable Express (ASE) system. As a consortium member, PLDT contributed USD55 million to the ASE project – which is designed to provide it with an increase in total bandwidth capacity. ASE will be PLDT’s third landing station, supplementing the one in Nasugbu, Batangas, for the Asia Pacific Cable Network 2 (APCN2) and Southeast Asia-Middle East-West Europe 3 (SMW3), and Bauang, La Union, for the Asia-America Gateway (AAG).