Liberty to plough more cash in Wi-Tribe Telecoms unit

24 Dec 2013

Liberty Telecoms Holdings, a subsidiary of Filipino conglomerate San Miguel Corp (SMC), plans to inject more cash into its wireless broadband unit Wi-Tribe Telecoms Inc (WTI). In a press release yesterday, Liberty confirmed that it has secured the necessary approval from the financial regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to eliminate fully the PHP7.60 billion (USD171.3 million) of debt its 100% owned subsidiary had at end-October. According to the statement: ‘The approval was subject to the condition that if the accumulated deficit as of 31 December 2013 will decrease, the same resulting decrease shall be reverted back to additional paid-in capital.’

Liberty Telecoms reported narrowing losses of PHP911.71 million in the first nine months of this year, although nine-month revenue tumbled 19.4% year-on-year to PHP357.98 million from PHP444.27 million, due to a drop in average revenue per user (ARPU) and a ‘substantial decrease’ in pre-paid and post-paid WiMAX users, compared to the same period a year earlier.

In September 2012 WTI was issued with an extension of its Congressional franchise through 2037, including the appropriate licences that allow it to provide a range of domestic and international telecoms services to the public. In November this year, SMC said it was hoping to launch a mobile phone service in the country by 2014, to complement WTI’s business. Under the plan, the details of which are sketchy at this point, SMC president Ramon Ang says that the company is currently building its network of cell sites across the country. Ang said that the new mobile service would use the telecom frequencies it has acquired over the years, while WTI will continue to focus on the broadband market.