Udenna Group eyes third telco slot

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Diversified Udenna Corp. has expressed interest in participating in the ongoing search for a third telecommunications player and has actually purchased so-called selection documents that concretizes its plans for the sector going forward.

Officials would not commit to an specific interest but acknowledged having casted a keen eye on the logistics aspect of the telecommunications industry.

Udenna Corp. forms the tip of a diversified business empire that spans across such industries as petroleum and oil, shipping and logistics, real estate, education and even on infrastructure.

That officials actually purchased the selection documents is a clear indication of what the group plans for the telecommunications sector.

President Duterte earlier committed to find that critical third telco player to challenge the dominant roles played by telecommunications giants Smart Communications and Globe Telecom by the end of the year.

“That has been what I’ve been saying publicly; in our timeline, we will have a third telco by Christmas. What the President said is what we’ve been saying all along. The ball is in NTC’s court,” Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said in a recent broadcast interview.

This has reference to the ongoing effort to complete the terms of reference (ToR) being drafted by government lawyers at the Department of Justice in close coordination with the National Telecommunications Commission.

Once the ToR is ready, the selection and bidding process for the third telco player could finally begin.

The various telcos earlier expressing interest in the ongoing search for the third player include Converge ICT Solutions, Easy Call Communications Philippines, Now Corporation, Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Co, TransPacific Broadband Group International Inc., China Telecom, KDDI Corp, LG Uplus Corp, Surya Telecom and Viettel Group.

Much earlier, Globe Telecom hired Zurich-based financial services giant UBS to help the telecommunications firm identify likely partners in a business venture designed to speed up the entry of the third telco player.

This was learned from Froilan Castelo, general counsel and senior vice president at Globe, in a telephone interview.

He said while the whole scheme remains drawn in broad strokes at this point, the advisory services provided by UBS should not only help them identify the potential partner or partners in the proposed cellular phone tower subsidiary company but conduct due diligence audit on those who make the grade as well.

“As repeatedly stated before, Globe is not opposed to the entry of a third player, or for that matter, as many players that the market can accommodate. Globe has always geared itself for growth and competition,” Castelo said.

“Competition has the potential of opening up new sources of revenue streams for telecommunications players while benefiting consumers with more innovative products and services at competitive rates,” he added.

He drew a general outline in which Globe’s network of tower assets across the country would be spun into a separate entity and these assets would be shared with the third telco player.

To help foster competition, Globe recently took a step forward to fulfill its plans to divest its tower assets. It has started the process of incorporating a separate tower holding company.

Once regulatory approvals are secured, this initiative will allow the third player to rapidly roll out its network and launch commercial operations. It will also give smaller players the opportunity to scale up their business without the burden of high capital expenditures, the telco said in a statement.

According to Castelo, some 20 potential telco players have thus far expressed interest in the tower-sharing scheme, all of whom are under due diligence audit by UBS.

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