By Darwin G. Amojelar
PLDT Inc., one of the country’s largest publicly-listed companies, said Wednesday it is cooperating with the regulators that are looking into the company’s P48-billion budget overrun, as its own internal investigation had not “unearthed fraudulent activities.”
PLDT’s stock price rebounded 5 percent Wednesday to close at P1,250.00, after losing 31 percent of its market value in the previous eight trading days on speculation of an impending management shakeup related to the cost overrun.
The company denied it suspended chief finance officer Anabelle Chua, but said she was on leave with pay to allow the company to conduct an independent investigation into the elevated CAPEX spend. “She has made herself available to the company to answer questions or provide clarifications as needed,” it said.
PLDT held a special briefing for analysts Wednesday. An analyst said PLDT mentioned several factors for the cost overrun, but did not provide more details.
PLDT said it would cooperate fully with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Philippine Stock Exchange and the Capital Markets Integrity Corp. on the reported P48-billion cost overrun which represented about 12.7 percent of the company’s total capital expenditures amounting to P379 billion from 2019 to 2022.
“As a listed company, PLDT has an obligation to make timely disclosures. Even as there were rumors circulating about PLDT in the public domain, PLDT needed to understand the range of issues involved and the extent of the matter,”’ PLDT said.
PSE president Ramon Monzon said it issued a show cause letter to PLDT asking for clarification on the disclosure they made on Dec. 16. “We expect to receive a response from PLDT within the week,” he said.
PLDT said it was also investigating contracts and expenditures involved and would meet major vendors for reconciliation of outstanding amounts and project status. It said the business and its outlook remained healthy.
“We’re working together as one team. It’s business as usual,” PLDT senior vice president and consumer business head Jeremiah de la Cruz said.
The company said it is gathering all the information requested by CMIC but needed to understand the range of issues involved and the extent of the matter. “Until this information is complete, any announcement would have been premature to the detriment of the public shareholders,” it said.
PLDT reiterated that it had not unearthed fraudulent activities in relation to the CAPEX overrun and agreed to make the necessary disclosures if this changes in the future. “Furthermore, the business and the outlook for the business continue to remain healthy,” it said.
PLDT posted a net profit of P27.4 billion from January to September, up 45 percent from P18.84 billion it booked in the same period last year.
Telecom core income, excluding the impact of asset sales and Voyager Innovations, went up by 10 percent to P25.4 billion in the nine-month period.