Globe Telecom open to partnering with PLDT for cell tower firm

MANILA, Philippines – Globe Telecom Incorporated is open to partnering with rival PLDT Incorporated for the proposed independent company that would build and deploy cellular towers in the Philippines.

"We've always been open to sharing. We are not into that – exclusivity. We like the open market. We think it benefits both of us. The cost [of deploying more cellular towers] will be lower," Globe president and chief executive officer Ernest Cu told reporters on the sidelines of a media briefing in Taguig City on Monday, May 7.

PLDT officials were sought for comment but they could not be reached as of posting. (READ: Globe wish list for Duterte: Submarine cables, less red tape)

Back in February, Globe initiated talks with independent parties to outsource the building of cell towers, in a bid to speed up the process.

Cu said this move would significantly reduce the time needed for a new player to roll out, given the 25 permits and up to 8 months required to build one cell tower.

"For the past two years, our CEO has been trying to convince our competitor to have a tower sharing venture for future builds to save on capital expenditures because today our towers are quite duplicative so where we have a tower, they have a tower and vice versa," Globe chief financial officer Rizza Maniego-Eala told reporters.

Globe spent around P6.6 billion in capital expenditures in the 1st quarter of the year to support the growing subscriber base and its demand for data.

Of the total capital expenditures spent this period, Cu said about 64% was for the data service needs of its customers. To date, Globe has a total of 38,963 base stations, with over 25,600 for 4G.

High capex

Globe expects to allot $850 million to $900 million every year until 2020 as capital spending budget, in a bid to continuously upgrade its network for the fast-growing data business.

The Ayala-led listed telecommunications company saw its net income surge to P4.7 billion in the 1st quarter of 2018, 27% higher than the P3.7 billion in the same period a year ago.

This was after its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) offset the depreciation charges and non-operating expenses for the period.

Globe saw an EBITDA of P16.1 billion in the 1st quarter of 2018, while total operating expenses and subsidy ended at P17.1 billion. The telco reported that its EBITDA margin for the period was at 48%.

Excluding the impact of non-recurring charges, foreign exchange, and mark-to-market charges, Globe's core net income stood at P4.8 billion. –