THE head of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) said Tuesday two foreign companies were interested in buying its remaining stake in power distribution utility Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).
“There are two serious foreign companies,” PLDT Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Manuel V. Pangilinan told reporters.
The stake is equivalent to about eight eight percent of Meralco, through shareholder Beacon Electric Asset Holdings Inc. PLDT.
PLDT owns 25 percent of Beacon, a joint venture between unit PLDT Communications and Energy Ventures and affiliate Metro Pacific Investments Corp.
“The sale of Meralco shares is really being undertaken by PLDT. Selling its 25 percent stake in Beacon…Beacon in turn owns approximately 35 percent of Meralco, so we are talking about a little over 8 percent of attributable interest in Meralco,” Pangilinan explained.
Pangilinan said no other company in the PLDT-Metro Pacific group, which is controlled by Hong Kong’s First Pacific Co. Ltd. of the Salim group of Indonesia, would like to buy the PLDT stake in Meralco.
Aside from Beacon, the other major stockholder in Meralco is JG Summit Holdings Inc. of the Gokongwei family.
The sale of PLDT’s stake in Meralco will be used to cut debts and support massive capital spending amid a shifting telecommunications landscape, Pangilinan said.
“Well, essentially to reduce debt at the PLDT level because the proceeds will have to go to PLDT and there might be a portion that will be devoted to payment of the balance installments due to San Miguel Corp. in respect of the telco acquisition,” Pangilinan said.
Last year, PLDT and Globe Telecom acquired in a joint deal San Miguel’s prized 700-megahertz 4G Long-Term Evolution frequency for P69.1 billion.