Saturday, March 2, 2024

PLDT infuriates Globe for opposing BayanTel deal

A visibly annoyed Globe Telecom lashed out against main competitor PLDT on Thursday, Nov. 14, for its attempt to block the Ayala-owned firm?s proposed takeover of smaller rival Bayan Telecommunications (BayanTel).

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PLDT’s opposition threatens to delay Globe’s acquisition of the Lopez-owned telco and launch another drawn-out battle at the NTC, similar to what happened when PLDT walloped Sun Cellular-operated Digitel Philippines a few years back.

In a press statement, Globe said PLDT should just “concentrate on addressing the needs of the typhoon victims in the Visayas and avoid divisive discussions on its opposition to Bayantel restructuring and rehabilitation program with Globe at the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).?

Froilan Castelo, general legal counsel of Globe, the company would ?rather not engage in any hostilities initiated by PLDT at a time when our brothers and sisters are in grief.?

Castelo stated he was disturbed upon learning of the PLDT opposition moves because all along, what Globe was doing was to help Bayantel get back on its feet, ?and allow Bayantel to continue its operations, ensure the continued employment of 1,100 workers ? thereby empowering Bayantel to contribute to the growth of the telecommunications market and industry.? Bayantel is currently servicing about 500,000 customers nationwide.

However, PLDT Group spokesman Ramon R. Isberto said in a statement: “This case has nothing at all to do with Typhoon Yolanda. We filed our opposition even before the typhoon came. This legal dispute should not distract us from working on our respective responsibilities to restore our services and assist in relief work.”

Indeed, PLDT filed at the NTC last Oct. 31 its opposition to the Joint Application by BayanTel and Globe for the approval of the conversion of BayanTel?s debt (substantially held by Globe) to equity per the Pasig RTC-directed Master Restructuring Agreement.

PLDT opined that the Joint Application was ?anti-competitive, anti-consumer and (of) unfair trade practice.?

The PLDT position paper, prepared by high-powered law firm ACCRA, also said the Globe-Bayan should be denied because it circumvents the rules on assignment and allocation of radio frequencies.

PLDT is also asking the NTC that in the event the agency approves the deal, it should strip Globe of excess frequencies.

But, Castelo said that ?everything?s legal and above board ? firstly, this is a valid restructuring and rehabilitation program promulgated by the Pasig RTC Branch 158; secondly, the Office of the Solicitor General has not posed any objections; thirdly, the NTC approved in October, last year, the co-use by Globe of Bayantel?s frequencies in the course of Bayantel?s mandated rehabilitation by the Pasig RTC.?

?This is unlike PLDT?s monopolistic acquisition of Digitel-Sun since Digitel-Sun was a very healthy competitor that was eating, in fact, into PLDT-Smart?s market share,? added Castelo.

?This time, there was broadly-based recognition of the need to rehabilitate Bayantel ? foremost among which were its major creditors like Goldman Sachs Group, Clearwater Capital Partners, Avenue Capital and the U.K.-based Spinnaker Capital.

Castelo said that Globe will study the opposition filed by the PLDT at the NTC but ?because of the foregoing, we can say this early that the RTC MRA does not propose an anti -competitive, anti-consumer nor an unfair trade practice.?


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