PH-listed PLDT exiting Rocket Internet by selling $50m worth stake this year

The logo of of Rocket Internet, a German venture capital group is pictured in this September 24, 2014 illustration photo in Sarajevo. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

Philippine-listed telecom and digital services firm PLDT has confirmed Friday that it is selling its remaining stake in German ecommerce investor Rocket Internet worth $50 million to finance its capital expenditures this year.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, PLDT Senior Vice President June Cheryl Cabal-Revilla confirmed reports that the company is disposing some of its real estate assets as well as its about two million shares in Rocket Internet on opportunistic basis to bankroll its capex for 2020, which the company said is “slightly bigger than 2019”.

Last year’s capital outlays amounted to 78.4 billion pesos ($1.5 billion).

PLDT invested 333 million euros ($372 million) in Rocket Internet in 2014 through PLDT Online.

The investment, according to PLDT during the signing of the agreement, reflected its long-term commitment to Rocket and its ability to combine PLDT’s mobile money expertise and resources to Rocket’s global platform.

In 2016, however, PLDT Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan described the company’s Rocket investment as “disappointing” although he held on to the stake. It was in 2017 that PLDT first hinted at divesting its stake in Rocket Internet.

In 2018, the company sold a portion of its 6.1-per cent stake in the German firm for 10.5 billion pesos ($207 million), trimming its stake to just two per cent.

Listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Rocket Internet incubates, builds, and operationally develops internet-based business models. It provides operational support to its companies and helps them scale internationally.

Its portfolio companies include property portal Lamudi, car classifieds startup Carmudi, and Southeast Asia’s budget hotel network Zenrooms.

Chief Executive Officer Oliver Samwer was reported in June to have planned to delist the company to make “more autonomous investment decisions”.

Aside from divesting its remaining stake in Rocket Internet, PLDT said it is selling its Smart Tower in Ayala and three other minor properties this year. The Smart Tower is expected to rake in at least 5 billion pesos ($98 million).

PLDT is boosting its capex this year to further develop its telecommunications network, with plans to introduce the country’s first 5G mobile service in the first quarter. The company also aims to regain its title as the country’s top mobile provider through Smart Communications, whose market share has been disrupted by the aggressive expansion of rival Globe Telecoms and other telecom players.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.