No sale as Voyager gets $175-M investment from US, China firms

Instead of relinquishing its ownership as reported in the news a few weeks ago, local tech titan PLDT announced on Thursday, October 4, that it has finalized its investment agreement with global investment firm KKR and Chinese tech firm Tencent.

Voyager Innovations president and CEO Doy Vea speaking during the inauguration of the new Voyager office in Mandaluyong City in December 2017

The two firms will separately subscribe to a total of up to $175 million worth of newly-issued shares in Voyager Innovations, giving them a substantial minority stake in the digital technology company.

Upon the closing of the transaction, which is expected within the fourth quarter of 2018, PLDT will remain as the majority shareholder of Voyager Innovations.

The agreements also contain provisions for Voyager Innovations to issue additional shares to other investors which, if this were to occur, would reduce PLDT’s ownership to less than 50% while still remaining as the largest shareholder.

The new external funding in Voyager Innovations marks the largest investment to date in a Philippine technology company. With the global expertise and fresh capital from the new investors, Voyager Innovations said it will enable greater access to mobile payments and the Internet as a whole for the country’s population.

The company’s technology platforms support the following digital services: PayMaya, PayMaya Business, Smart Padala, Lendr, and freenet.

“Having global powerhouses such as KKR and Tencent as investors in Voyager Innovations demonstrates not only their confidence in the company’s ability to execute its vision, but also their confidence in the Philippine technology industry as a whole,” said Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman, president and CEO of PLDT:

Orlando B. Vea, president and CEO of Voyager Innovations, said: “This is a watershed moment not only for Voyager Innovations but also for the Philippines. With this investment by KKR and Tencent, we will trigger an inflection point in digital adoption and financial inclusion in the country.”

Terence Lee, Director on KKR’s Southeast Asia team, said: “We are excited about Voyager Innovations and to further invest behind online payments leaders in emerging markets. Voyager Innovations provides critical digital and financial services to millions of Filipinos looking to join the digital economy for work and play. We look forward to leveraging our industry expertise and resources to help enhance the company’s mission of financial inclusion and accelerate its growth at a time when the digital economy is more important than ever.”

KKR’s investment in Voyager Innovations is being funded from KKR Asian Fund III. The investment is KKR’s first private equity investment in the Philippines and is part of the firm’s strategy to invest in high-growth markets that the firm believes can benefit from a rapid increase in technology adoption.

Other investments KKR has made in the technology and fintech sectors include Go-Jek (Indonesia’s leading on-demand mobile platform for ride hailing, food delivery, and mobile payments), Suishou Technology (one of China’s largest personal finance management platforms) and First Data (global payment technology and services solutions provider with a presence in 118 countries).

James Mitchell, chief strategy officer of Tencent, said: “Voyager Innovations connects the growing smartphone population in the Philippines to online payments and financial services. Tencent is glad to support Voyager Innovations and to advance financial inclusion.”

PLDT said the investment in Voyager Innovations is not subject to the compulsory merger notification regime under the Philippine Competition Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations. In addition, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas confirmed that it interposes no objection to the investment, according to PLDT.

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