PLDT divests stakes in technology companies

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    PLDT Inc. has divested its stakes in technology firms Berlin-based Rocket Internet and iflix, a regional streaming service provider.

    In a filing at the Philippine Stock Exchange, PLDT unit PLDT Online Investments Pte. Ltd. said it has sold the remaining 0.4 percent stake in Rocket Internet for P508 million last October, resulting in the full divestment of its stake in the technology firm.

    To recall, PLDT invested $445 million for an initial 10 percent stake in Rocket Internet to create mobile payment solutions for consumers and merchants in the Philippines and abroad over six years ago.

    PLDT’s stake was gradually diluted after a series of transactions – PLDT sold 1.4 million Rocket Internet shares for an aggregate amount of P1.5 billion, reducing its equity ownership from 1.4 percent to 0.4 percent last September.

    As for iflix, PLDT derecognized its investment in the firm following Tencent group’s acquisition of iflix for $22.5 million in June last year.

    iflix entered into an asset purchase agreement with Tencent group relating to the sale of its major assets including trademark, content, platform and resources for a total consideration of $22.5 million.

    “As a result, PLDT Online derecognized its investment in iflix composed of ordinary and Series B Preferred Shares which rank last and second to the last, respectively, with respect to rights upon liquidation, dissolution and winding up of iflix,” PLDT said in its latest annual report.

    Upon closing of the transaction, the remaining assets of iflix are its existing cash, receivables and the right to pursue certain ongoing arbitration proceedings against certain business counterparties which it intends to use for the settlement of its liabilities.

    In 2015, PLDT infused an investment of $15 million to acquire a portion of iflix.

    With this, PLDT said its net loss from other business segments which include Rocket Internet, iflix, among others, fell by 82 percent to P1.5 billion in 2020 from P1.8 billion in 2019 due to lower expenses.

    Meanwhile, PLDT Group reported its net income last year rose 8 percent to P24.3 billion, while consolidated services revenues grew 9 percent to P171.5 billion, the highest full year revenue ever attained by the company led by data/broadband demand which jumped 18 percent to P124.5 billion.

    As competition is expected to be tougher this year, PLDT has allocated P90 billion for capital expenditure which is 25 percent higher than last year’s capex. Bulk of this would be spent for the expansion of its fiber and wireless network nationwide.