Telco giant PLDT’s plan to acquire Sky Cable is bound to run into antitrust obstacles, Surigao del Sur representative Johnny Pimentel said on Tuesday, Sept. 15.
Talks are rife that the Manny Pangilinan-led telco is negotiating for the purchase of the Lopez-owned cable operator. PLDT, however, said in a disclosure on Monday, Sept. 14, that discussions are still in the exploratory stage.
“PLDT regularly explores opportunities available to the group that may complement our overall business strategy. As such, PLDT is evaluating options with respect to Sky Cable for possible opportunities. However, there is nothing definite nor disclosable at this time,” the company told the Philippine Stock Exchange.
Pimentel said there will surely be serious concerns about the business combination potentially reducing market competition and increasing the market power of the acquirer. “The deal may easily be construed as buying out the competition in order to kill it,” he said.
“Assuming the transaction pushes through, we would expect it to be thoroughly scrutinized by antitrust regulators, who are there to ensure fair market competition for the benefit of consumers,” the lawmaker said.
Under the law, business merger or acquisition agreements may not be consummated without the approval of the Philippine Competition Commission, which may reject transactions that prevent, restrict, or lessen market competition.
Pimentel expressed concern that PLDT might acquire and then simply shut Sky Cable down.
“After all, PLDT is in a position to conveniently replace all the products, including the high-speed Internet services, being offered by Sky Cable,” Pimentel said. “Existing Sky Cable subscribers might simply become PLDT Fiber and Cignal subscribers overnight.”
PLDT also controls direct-broadcast satellite TV provider Cignal TV which competes with Sky Cable.