NTC asks finance ministry for guidance regarding sale of CURE’s old spectrum

4 Apr 2014

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) of the Philippines is understood to have sought guidance from the Department of Finance (DoF) on its proposed auction of the 3G spectrum that was handed back by Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co (PLDT) in mid-2012. As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the frequencies initially belonged to Connectivity Unlimited Resource Enterprise (CURE), which PLDT acquired in April 2008, but as part of the approval for the latter’s acquisition of Digital Telecommunications Philippines (Digitel), in October 2011 it was ordered to divest its holding in CURE, and duly relinquished the assets and frequencies in mid-2012.

Now, according to the Manila Times, with PLDT said to have claimed that its investment price for the spectrum in question totalled PHP2.125 billion (USD47.2 million), deputy NTC commissioner Carlo Jose Martinez was cited as saying that the regulator is looking to hire accountants to check the figures provided by the telco’s accounting and auditing firm SGV. ‘We have to hire another accountant besides SGV, someone without any tie-up with PLDT to countercheck the price given by PLDT and see if [it] is a correct price or excessive.’ In addition, Mr Martinez noted that the NTC was planning on contacting the DoF for assistance in the matter, though he could not confirm if it had done so yet, stating: ‘I’ll have to see if that letter [to the DoF] has really been sent, so that they could give us guidance on, number one, issues regarding the accountant, [secondly] the qualifications of the bidders and [thirdly], determination of the minimum bid price.’

Globe Telecom and San Miguel Corp. are said to have shown an interest in acquiring CURE’s old spectrum, while the NTC said the auction would likely be a sealed bid, with the regulator setting a floor price designed to recover the investment of the PLDT group in CURE.