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Globe considers divesting all or part of its cellular tower assets

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GLOBE Telecom, Inc. on Thursday said it considering the divestment of all or part of its cellular tower assets to independent tower companies.

In a statement, Globe said it has started talks with “independent third parties” to establish a tower company that would help speed up the construction of cellular towers in the country.

“We have been allocating over 30% of our total revenues to capital expenditure for the past five years and this level will be sustained over a period of time. An independent tower company will be a win-win solution.  It will monetize assets for capex use and help maintain our consistent dividend policy,” Globe President and CEO Ernest L. Cu was quoted as saying.

“In addition, this greatly helps President Duterte’s initiative to open the telco industry to new players. The plan is for these towers to be open for lease to new and existing players,” he added.

Mr. Cu said this move would reduce the barriers that a new third player would face since it would not have to spend money to build towers.

“This significantly reduces the time needed for a new player to rollout given the 25 permits and up to 8 months required to build one cell tower. Our move is also consistent with our position of being open to more competition in the telecommunications industry,” he said.

The Duterte government is crafting a common tower policy, which will require current telecommunications operators to lease cell towers from tower companies instead of building their own sites. The policy is aimed at providing better telecommunications services to the public and leveling the playing field with the entry of a third player. Guidelines are set to be released this month.

Mr. Cu previously said they are wary of the common tower policy, saying it will not aid in the process of creating more cell sites.

The country only has 16,000 cell sites, with Globe having 8,000.

Presidential Adviser for Economic Affairs and Information Technology Communications Ramon P. Jacinto has said the country needs 50,000 cell sites.

Incumbent telcos PLDT, Inc. and Globe have cited red tape as a barrier to building more cell sites.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo