The Philippine Daily Inquirer writes that the country’s de facto duopoly of PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom yesterday (30 May) completed their acquisition of San Miguel Corp’s (SMC’s) telecommunications assets, making their final joint payment in defiance of the Philippine antitrust body’s request to wait for the courts to make a final ruling. Officials from both operators and SMC confirmed the final payment of PHP13 billion (USD261.3 million) had been made, completing the deal to buy Vega Telecom for a total of around PHP69.1 billion that was agreed one year ago. ‘It’s done,’ said SMC president Ramon S Ang in a text message, while Globe CEO Ernest Cu confirmed that his company was merely complying with last year’s agreement, which covered the buyout of Vega but specifically targeted SMC’s valuable but underused telco frequencies, assigned to PLDT and Globe as part of the transaction. ‘We will just continue the rollout. That is what we are doing,’ Cu said, referring to the ongoing aggressive rollout schedule to deploy more cell sites – including LTE-ready equipment in the coveted 700MHz band.
In March this year, the controversial buyout by PLDT and Globe of SMC’s telecoms assets took another turn with an announcement by the Court of Appeals affirming its earlier decision to prevent the comptroller, the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), from reviewing the deal. The appeals court decision seemingly only served to strengthen the existing telecoms duopoly at a time when outspoken president Rodrigo Duterte has talked tough on his willingness to shake up the status quo. PCC chair Arsenio Balisacan declined to comment on the latest announcement, Tuesday.