Manny Pangilinan generally confident about second half despite COVID headwinds

Telco magnate Manuel V. Pangilinan is looking forward to the second half with enthusiasm despite the tough business environment.

“We’re guardedly optimistic for the second half but on the whole we expect overall performance to be quite good,” said Pangilinan, managing director and CEO of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co., an investment holding company with interests in consumer food products, infrastructure, natural resources and telecommunications.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced companies to make full use of digital technologies to to meet then needs of people and soften the impact of the crisis on their lives.

“It’s a chance to reposition the group and rebuild it in the digital world. I think we are ahead of others in this regard,” Pangilina said.

He said the group’s telco business under PLDT has performed well during the pandemic, beating its power and water units which posted weaker growth.

“Because of the recession, demand has generally been down, especially in the second quarter, albeit only moderately for power and water for this period. The main exception is the telco business because revenues had been robust for the first half,” he added.

Pangilinan said the transport business was the hardest hit among the group’s businesses as the lockdowns had prevented people from going out.

“Traffic went down to as low as 10% of pre-COVID 19 levels. It has now been restored to 80 percent,” he said.

While water, power and telco are basic requirements in a lockdown, Pangilinan cited the risks of negative economic growth on people’s ability to pay for basic services.

“Demand will always be there because those are very basic requirements so the question is whether it will continue to grow, or there will be reasons that will cause demand to drop simply because people may have lesser means to pay,” he said.

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