MVP on collapse of PLDT-GMA7 talks: Regulatory risk-sharing was the deal-breaker

The chairman of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. said disagreement over the sharing of regulatory risks caused the breakdown in talks with the majority owners of GMA Network Inc.

“It’s not about the price. It’s really a question of share of the regulatory risks. So, doon hindi nagkasundo,” Manuel V. Pangilinan said on Wednesday night on the sidelines of the 50th year anniversary celebration of a University of the Philippines fraternity in Makati Shangri-La.

Last week, PLDT and GMA7 terminated discussions for the telco’s possible buyout of the broadcast company’s major shareholders – the families of Gozon, Duavit and Jimenez – who own a combined 79 percent of the broadcast company. GMA7 chairman Felipe Gozon had said the price was not the deal breaker.

“Tapos na iyon. Our focus is to make TV5 a viable competitor,” Pangilinan said, referring to the PLDT group’s own broadcast company, which ranks third in the industry in terms of ratings. Rivals GMA7 and ABS-CBN Corp. each claims leadership in TV ratings.

Pangilinan had said the termination of the GMA7 acquisition initiative was not expected to adversely impact the PLDT Group’s strategy of evolving from a traditional telecommunications company into a multimedia service company.

“The PLDT Group continues to believe that owning, producing and providing content across multiple platforms is an important component of its blueprint for growth and as such, intends to pursue its media strategy by building on Mediaquest’s current investments in TV 5, the country’s third largest free-to-air television network by audience share, and Cignal TV, the leading provider of direct-to-home satellite television services,” he added.

Before this year’s attempt, PLDT-Beneficial Trust Fund in 2004 attempted to buy 66.67 percent of GMA7 for P8.5 billion, but negotiations bogged down after MediaQuest Holdings Inc. reduced its valuation of the broadcast company from P14.58 billion to P12 billion.

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