Anthoni Salim intends to remain invested in PH

Indonesian billionaire Anthoni Salim?s First Pacific Co. Ltd., remains committed to keeping the group’s presence in the Philippines despite the ongoing struggles of its telecommunications unit, PLDT Inc.

“I don’t think we’ll be selling down MPIC (Metro Pacific Investments Corp.) any further. And I don’t think we are keen at the moment to sell PLDT (formerly Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.) down because the company is in the process of quite a radical transformation. And in order to regain its full potential value, we need to complete that,” First Pacific executive director Robin Nicholson said in a recent briefing with analysts.

“But we have other assets and I think if the right opportunity comes up then we might prefer to recycle the capital invested in those,” Nicholson added.

First Pacific?s Philippine business saw its profit contribution to the mother company decline 12.7 percent in the first half to $153.1 million, weighed down by the meager performance of PLDT despite robust economic growth. This resulted in an eight percent drop in First Pacific’s six month recurring profit to $226.2 million.

“Stronger results from PT Indofood Sukses Makmur Tbk (?Indofood?), MPIC and Philex Mining Corp. as well as a greater contribution from Goodman Fielder Pty. Ltd. mitigated these shortfalls,” First Pacific

First Pacific owns 25.6 percent of PLDT and 42 percent of MPIC. It also holds a 41.6 percent economic interest in Philex.

During the first half, PLDT contributed $78.4 million to First Pacific?s total earnings, down 19.5 percent year on year. MPIC?s contribution fell to $70.2 million from $75 million.

Philex, meanwhile, saw its earnings contribution jump 55 percent to $4.5 million.

PLDT is currently in the midst of reviving its business as intense competition, higher handset subsidies and provisions for receivables and inventories, resulted to lower profits.

The telco giant is embarking on a three-year recovery plan, aimed at transforming to a primarily digital business from a heavily legacy one given weakening earnings and slipping subscribers in the past two years.

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