Philippine-listed telco and digital services provider PLDT is said to be considering selling its telecom towers for about $800 million, Bloomberg reported, quoting unnamed sources privy to the matter.
The report added that PLDT, which owns wireless communications firm Smart Communications, one of the major telco providers in the Philippines, is already working with an adviser on the planned disposal.
If the sale pushes through, the plan is for PLDT to lease back the towers from its new owners.
The report is a reversal to PLDT’s announcement in December last year that it was building 2,000 new cell sites in 2021 in response to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s warning for telco operators to provide better service or risk closure or expropriation.
That time, PLDT said it had also increased the number of its LTE and 3G base stations to over 58,000 while also rolling out an additional 313 5G base stations to accelerate its 5G commercial services nationwide.
PLDT President and CEO Al Panlilio declined to comment on the Bloomberg report.
In January 2020, prior to Duterte’s tirades against telco operators, PLDT said it was selling a few assets that will allow the firm to rake in several billions of pesos to fund its capital expenditures.
It went on to sell its 37-story property, Smart Tower, in Makati City for $128 million to Consunji Group’s DMC Urban Property Developers. The deal was considered the largest real estate transaction for 2020.
In its annual report released in March, PLDT, which is backed by Japan’s NTT Group, said its service revenue hit a record-high last year due to surging demand for internet service during the coronavirus pandemic.
PLDT, which is backed by Japan’s NTT Group, said its consolidated service revenue increased 9% to 171.5 billion pesos ($3.53 billion), lifted largely by its data and broadband business, whose revenue jumped 18% to 124.5 billion pesos.
However, the firm’s mobile services revenue growth declined on a quarter-on-quarter basis in the Q1 of this year as a result of COVID-19 headwinds and stiffer competition from its rivals.