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SMC bares Liberty tender offer

The telecommunications unit of San Miguel Corp. is making a bid to purchase all the publicly-held stake of Liberty Telecom Holdings Inc. at a price below the market.

San Miguel said in a report to regulators it was earmarking P491 million to purchase 223.15 million, or about 17.25 percent, of the issued and outstanding common stock held by the public.

The purchase price was P2.20 per share, lower than the market price of P2.80 apiece.

The tender offer will begin on July 23 and end at the closing of business hours of August 20.

San Miguel is making the offer in connection with Vega Telecom’s acquisition of 51.01 percent of the total outstanding common and preferred shares in Liberty Telecom from Qtel West Bay Holdings S.P.C., White Dawn Solution Holdings Inc. and wi-tribe Asia Limited.

Qtel West Bay as of end-March owned 29.89 percent of Liberty, while White Dawn Solution and wi-tribe held 18.44 percent and 2.68 percent, respectively.

The shares were valued at an estimated P3.75 billion based on Vega’s tender offer price.

Vega Telecom held a 35.73-percent stake in Liberty Telecom.

Liberty Telecoms expects to break even after exiting corporate rehabilitation a year ahead of schedule.

“The management really wants to have a break even as soon as possible,”  said Liberty Telecoms president and chief executive Bienvenido Bañas said.

The company, a joint venture of San Miguel and Qatar Telecom, reported a total comprehensive loss of P210.16 million in the first quarter of 2015, down 32 percent from a P307.59-million net loss recorded a year ago.

Revenues declined to P42.17 million in the January-to-March period from P78.38 million year-on-year.

Liberty Telecoms also aims to launch mobile phone services as early as January  next year.

San Miguel earlier announced Vega Telecoms bought Express Telecommunications Inc. and Vega’s investment in High Frequency Telecommunications Inc.

Extelcom, owned by the Ongpin Group and UK-based Ashmore Investment Management Ltd., is the country’s first mobile telephone operator

San Miguel will now have four telecommunications companies under its portfolio, namely Eastern Telecommunications Philippines Inc., Bell Telecommunications Philippines Inc. and Liberty Telecoms Holdings Inc.

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