PLDT Not Buying PAL

Stays with MVP Group Aviation Needs

September 23, 2011

By Lenie Lectura
Business Mirror

As rumors soared over the reason behind the formation of a new aviation company by Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Metro Pacific Investments Corp., the telco giant on Monday doused speculations it is looking to invest in flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) or that it plans to go into the commercial airline business.

Shares of PAL Holdings Inc. took off on Monday, gaining 3.6% to close at P6.32, on speculations that PLDT Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan may be the “white knight” for Philippine Airlines Inc., a unit of PAL Holdings.

But in a chance interview on Monday afternoon, PLDT President Napoleon Nazareno quickly dismissed talks that PLDT may invest in PAL, owned by beer and tobacco tycoon Lucio Tan.

“We are not putting up an airline business like PAL, nor are we acquiring PAL. That is so wrong. We are just centralizing the business or, rather, rationalizing the resources we have,” Nazareno said.

He said the new company, Pacific Global One Aviation Inc., is a “legal entity put up to rationalize the PLDT group’s aviation requirements,” likening the newly created firm to conglomerate Ayala Corp.’s Ayala Aviation Corp.

Pacific Global One Aviation Inc. currently has three helicopters and one fixed-wing aircraft.

“We’ve put up another company so that other companies within the group, say, Meralco [Manila Electric Co.], Philex [Mining Corp.], etc., can participate and not just PLDT shouldering the entire cost,” Nazareno said. “For now, PLDT is just the one managing it while other companies in the group are using it but do not have equity sharing. So now, it’s going to be a contribution of other companies.”

He acknowledged, though, that there are plans to acquire more aircraft as the need arises. “We may buy one to two more, depending on the need of the entire group,” he said.

For his part, PAL President Jaime Bautista on Monday said he is not aware of any talks involving new investors, including Pangilinan or his rival Ramon Ang, president and chief operating officer of San Miguel Corp.

“If there are, I am not involved in those discussions. If there are, the ongoing talks are happening upstairs,” Bautista said.

PLDT is already working with PAL. SPi Global, a wholly owned subsidiary of the telco giant, is among the three service providers of PAL—handling call-center reservations—in the airline’s controversial outsourcing plan that has led to the retrenchment of 2,600 employees.

Pangilinan has also openly mentioned that he is interested in supporting the development of Diosdado Macapagal International Airport’s Terminal 2 and a modern railway system. Pangilinan had already met with the Clark International Airport Corp. President and CEO Victor Jose Luciano on the development plans.
But when reporters asked on September 12 if he was interested in PAL, Pangilinan simply said, “Mahirap na negosyo ‘yan.”

Pacific Global One has an authorized capital stock of P430 million, with common shares worth P400 million and P30 million worth of preferred shares.

Documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which were approved on Thursday, stated that the primary purpose of the new company is “to carry on, by means of aircraft of every kind or description, the general business of common and/or private carrier, air taxi or charter engaged in the transportation for itself and for others, of passengers, mail, merchandise and freight, and in this connection, to acquire, purchase, lease, construct, own, maintain, operate and dispose of aircraft of every kind and description, for scheduled and nonscheduled flights, for domestic and foreign travel, and also to own, purchase, construct, lease, operate and dispose of hangars, transportation depots, lounge facilities, aircraft service stations and agencies and other objects and services of similar nature which may be necessary, convenient or useful as an auxiliary to aircraft transportation, including the service and repair of aircraft, ground handling, and buying, selling and generally dealing in oils, gasoline, fuel, aircraft accessories and equipment and goods, wares and relate merchandise of every name and description.”

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