The Philippine Daily Inquirer writes that domestic operator Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T) is looking to rebuild its position as one of the country’s major telecoms players, including plans to deploy high speed broadband internet services countrywide in the next three years. PT&T’s strategy, it says, is to tap into the investment market, possibly via a tie-up with a foreign partner, with companies such as state-owned China Telecom and India’s Jio, owned by Indian magnate Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, touted as potential partners.
With the Philippines’ president Rodrigo Duterte calling for more competition in the domestic telecoms sector, PT&T chair Salvador B Zamora II told the paper in an interview that the company wants to hold exploratory talks with foreign partners – including operators in Mexico – once it gets approval from the Philippine Stock Exchange to lift a 13-year-old voluntary trading suspension sometime ‘in the next three months.’ Zamora is aware that PT&T needs a strategic partner if it is to achieve its long term goals, but notes that should it succeed, the operator could become a credible ‘third player’ in a market dominated by PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom. ‘But that’s further down the road. We have so much to take care of first,’ Zamora noted.
A group led by Zamora and businessman Benjamin Bitanga acquired 70% of PT&T from the Santiago family in August 2016. PT&T, established in 1962, is present in Metro Manila and has a 700km fibre-optic footprint. The new owners say they have sufficient funds to finance the growth of PT&T, an industry pioneer and a former rival of PLDT Inc. before it fell into difficult times after the Asian financial crisis in 1997. It later filed for corporate rehabilitation, with Zamora saying he wants to take the company out of rehabilitation by 2018. His group is negotiating with creditors holding about PHP12 billion (USD233.6 million) of its debts and added that the company is open to partnerships with cable companies for ‘last-mile’ connections around the country. PT&T has about 700 corporate clients, he says, including the National Bureau of Investigation, Asia United Bank and Novotel. PT&T disclosed earlier that it could hit around 3,000 clients ‘without the need for further capital infusion.’