Philippines' PLDT receives $1 billion in bids for tower assets

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippines PLDT Inc has received offers from six foreign firms to buy thousands of its telecoms towers for up to $1 billion, officials said on Thursday, as the company aims to generate savings and cut debt.

PLDT put about half of its more than 11,000 telecoms towers up for sale last year to slash operating costs and focus on growing its broadband and mobile internet businesses.

Six final bidders involved in global tower operations, some of them partnering with domestic players, submitted final bids a few days ago, PLDT Chief Executive Officer Alfredo Panlilio told a news conference, but he declined to identify them.

PLDT, partly owned by Japan's NTT DoCoMo Inc and Hong Kong's First Pacific Co Ltd, will sell 6,000 towers to two companies in the second quarter and keep the rest, Panlilio said.

While there is no pressure to sell assets, fresh capital will help meet the company's financial targets like reducing debt and trimming interest payments, said PLDT Chairman Manuel Pangilinan.

PLDT, which had a gross debt of $5 billion at the end of 2021, had anticipated bids of between $800 million and $1 billion for the sale, which is being facilitated by Swiss bank UBS.

Officials of PLDT, one of the country's three major telecoms players, assured customers the sale of towers would not impact service.

The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,600 islands and more than 110 million people, has among the world's most prolific users of mobile internet and social media but its lack of towers in recent years has impacted service quality.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)

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