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Tycoon Anthony Salim-Backed PLDT To Sell Telecom Towers For $1.5 Billion In Landmark Philippine Deal

PLDT Inc.—which counts Indonesian billionaire Anthony Salim’s First Pacific among its shareholders—has agreed to sell 5,907 telecommunications towers for 77 billion pesos ($1.5 billion) in the largest-ever sale of Philippine assets to international investors.

Edotco Group, a unit of Malaysian telecom giant Axiata, will acquire 2,973 of the towers across the Philippines, while EdgePoint—which is owned by New York-listed DigitalBridge and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority—will take over 2,934 towers in the country’s biggest island of Luzon, PLDT said in statement on Tuesday. Following the sale, PLDT said its unit Smart Communications will lease the facilities from the new owners.

“This partnership with experienced international tower companies represents another milestone in PLDT’s strategic transformation,” PLDT chairman Manuel Pangilinan said in a statement. “We expect to reap the benefits in terms of a valuation uplift and capital reallocation with PLDT applying the proceeds to deleverage, further invest in the network, and return cash to shareholders via a special dividend.”

The transaction will be completed on a staggered basis, with the first closing expected next month and the second closing in the fourth quarter of this year. Besides First Pacific, other shareholders of PLDT—the Philippines’ largest telecommunications company—include Japan’s NTT as well as JG Summit, controlled by billionaire Lance Gokongwei and his family.

Edotco, which operates more than 54,000 towers across nine Asian countries, and EdgePoint, which has 10,000 towers in Indonesia and Malaysia, will become the largest operators of telecom towers in the Philippines and are committing to build an additional 1,500 new towers across the country.

“We are committed to building a world class operation to expand next-generation connectivity solutions, bridging the digital divide in the Philippines and creating new job opportunities in the sector,” Suresh Sidhu, CEO of EdgePoint, said. “The Philippine telecoms sector has tremendous potential, and we look forward to be part of that future.”