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Antitrust body refuses to give up on USD1.48bn SMC-PLDT-Globe deal probe

13 Dec 2017

According to GMA News, antitrust watchdog Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has filed an eleventh-hour appeal to the Supreme Court (SC) asking to be allowed to continue a review into the PHP69 billion (USD1.48 billion) buyout of the telecoms assets of San Miguel Corp (SMC) by local telecoms giants PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom. In a press briefing, PCC commissioner Johannes Bernabe confirmed that the appeal was filed by the PCC ‘together with the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG)’ on the deadline day. The Court of Appeals confirmed the legality of the joint acquisition of SMC’s telecoms business in October this year. However, the antitrust watchdog disagrees with its findings prompting its decision to file an appeal. Should the SC come down on the side of the PCC this time around, it will be able to continue reviewing the deal which the Court of Appeal 12th Division stopped last year. Globe Telecom declined to comment on the development while PLDT issued a statement saying it would ‘study the petition’.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Databas, in May 2017 the country’s de facto duopoly completed their acquisition of 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 in mid-2016. ‘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.

Philippines, Globe Telecom (incl. Innove), PLDT Inc. (incl. Smart Communications)

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