SMC confirms ‘serious talks’ with four Asian telcos as hunt for investor continues

17 May 2016

Philippines-based beer and food conglomerate San Miguel Corp (SMC) has said it is holding a series of talks with four foreign telcos, as the firm strives to resurrect plans to launch its maiden telecoms venture, now tentatively scheduled to take place in the third quarter of this year. Earlier this month, discussions between SMC and Australian telco Telstra over a Filipino mobile joint venture (JV) broke down, followed soon after by local press speculation that Norway-based Telenor Group is eager to seek a deal to become SMC’s new foreign partner. Whilst SMC president Ramon S. Ang confirmed that Telenor Group had been in contact, he moved to cool expectations when he noted that he was still ‘thinking about it’, suggesting too that, despite its lack of experience, the conglomerate could still look to go it alone.

Ang has now noted, however, that in the wake of the Telstra deal falling apart, his group has been approached by a number of foreign firms: ‘We are in talks with Asian telecom companies, which are fast to talk to, much easier to deal with and much faster to decide,’ he told BusinessMirro, adding ‘I think we will be on a make or break very, very soon. If something happens, hopefully, we can decide by May or June, whichever way to go. Either we go with a partner, we go with whoever partner, or to do it alone. But even though we will do it with a partner or no partner, the launch will be delayed by three months.’

If it does realise its goal, either on its own or with international backing, SMC could become the third ‘serious’ telco in the Philippines – a country which has gained some notoriety for the underdeveloped state of its telecoms infrastructure in a market long dominated by two players – Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co (PLDT) and Ayala’s Globe Telecom.