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Going for broke: MVP-Salim group dives into bidding war for Sky Cable, eyes Bayanihan exemption from anti-competition scrutiny

The bidding war for Sky Cable has just escalated with bilyonaryo Manny V. Pangilinan and the Salim group of Indonesia reportedly joining the list of interested buyers for one of the prized assets held by the Lopez family.

A Babbler said the MVP-Salim group would make an “aggressive offer” for Sky Cable to make sure it would win the bidding war.

BILYONARYO earlier reported that three bilyonaryos have so far expressed interest in taking Sky Cable off the hands of the Lopezes: Dennis Anthony Uy, CEO of broadband operator Converge ICT Solutions; Dennis Uy, CEO and majority owner of Dito Telecommunity; and the Ayalas, who run the country’s biggest mobile phone company, Globe Telecom, and Bank of the Philippine Islands, a major creditor of the former media giant, ABS-CBN.

RELATED STORY: Lopezes put Sky Cable up for sale: Dennis Anthony Uy, Dennis Uy, Ayalas to square off

The Babbler cited the MVP-Salim group’s “all out” mentality in bidding as seen from its steep bid of P33,000 per square meter for Fort Bonifacio in 1995, which is 37 percent more than the second highest bid of Ayala (which eventually took over a big chunk of the property when MVP-Salim disposed it in a fire sale in 2001).

MVP-Salim group owns Cignal TV, the country’s leading direct-to-home satellite television and the main rival of Sky Cable, and PLDT-Smart, the other half of the country’s telecom duopoly.

The Babbler said taking over Sky Cable would allow the MVP-Salim group to build a virtual cable-satellite TV monopoly and fortify its grip on the broadband market (PLDT-Smart is No. with over two million subscribers while Sky Cable is No. 3 with over 700,000).

But won’t the Philippine Competition Commission set up a road block against the imminent monopoly building moves in the Sky Cable bidding war?

Fortunately for MVP-Salim group and other bidders, PCC Chair Arsenio Balisacan’s hands have been handcuffed by the Bayanihan 2 Law enacted recently by Congress.

Based on a provision in Bayanihan 2, President Duterte’s follow-up to his initial COVID response, mergers and acquisitions (M&As) worth below P50 billion are exempted from the mandatory PCC review under Republic Act 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act (PCA) from 2020 to 2022. These M&As shall also be exempt from the PCC’s power to review motu proprio from 2020 to 2021.

At present, all M&A deals involving P2.4 billion have to be approved by the PCC.

Neat.

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