PLDT completes $1.6b Digitel purchase

Dylan Bushell-Embling
27 Oct 2011

After months of delays, the Philippines' PLDT has finally completed the purchase of a controlling stake in mobile rival Digitel – but not without agreeing to some concessions.

PLDT has disclosed it now owns 51.55% of Digitel, following a share swap deal worth around 69.2 billion pesos ($1.6 billion).

The long-awaited transaction came hours after regulator NTC signed off on the deal, subject to three conditions.

First, the NTC has accepted PLDT's offer to sell 10MHz of 3G spectrum currently owned by subsidiary CURE. Existing CURE customers will be migrated to its Smart unit.

The NTC will also require Digitel to continue to provide “unlimited” call and text services to the public, and lastly to pledge that PLDT and Digital will each ensure they continue to provide high quality services.

PLDT first announced plans to pursue the acquisition in March, but the arrangement sparked fears it could lead to a return of a telecom duopoly between PLDT and rival Globe.

The deal was repeatedlydelayed as the NTC's review into its implications kept being extended.

The amount of spectrum PLDT would hold post-acquisition was a particular source of contention. Due to Digitel's history of low-cost pricing, the operator had been considered to be a force helping to keep prices down for consumers.

The concessions attached to the deal are aimed at addressing these concerns.

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