Telenor mulls Filipino joint venture with San Miguel

Norwegian group Telenor has indicated that it could partner with San Miguel Corp on a wireless joint venture in the Philippines.

SMC had previously been discussing such a venture with Telstra, but the Australian market leader abandoned discussions in March after the companies failed to agree on an equity investment. Talks had been underway since last summer, with Telstra considering an investment of up to $1 billion.

According to SMC president Ramon Ang, Telenor reached out to SMC, and negotiations have not yet begun. He added that the company does not necessarily require an overseas partner to establish a third mobile operator in the Philippines, but noted that several international firms had expressed an interest.

Telenor is established in six Asian markets - Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand – and is looking to enter more. The region provides the firm with 50% of its global revenue.

SMC has substantial telecoms holdings in the Philippines, where it is the largest corporation by revenue. The firm holds 90% of the spectrum in the efficient and highly prized 700MHz band; in November 2015 the two Filipino operators PLDT and Globe called for the regulator to sell off some of this spectrum, which may have been a factor in Telstra’s reluctance to form a joint venture.

Between them, PLDT’s subsidiary Smart and Globe have a 99% share of the market. Smart takes 53% of this while Globe holds 46%.

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