Back off! MVP spooked by prospect of losing PLDT, Meralco franchises if he pushed through TV-ABS-CBN, Cignal-SkyCable deals

Bilyonaryo Manny V. Pangilinan apparently believes discretion is the better part of valor when he decided to abandon his joint venture deals with the Lopez family to protect his group’s crown jewels.

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A Babbler said Pangilinan decided to terminate discussions with the Lopez family for ABS-CBN Broadcasting’s buy-in of TV5 Network and Cignal’s takeover of SkyCable after Congress leaders warned him he could lose the franchise of his group’s core businesses – PLDT and Meralco.

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“Pangilinan has been reportedly given fair warning that he should drop his planned ‘merger’ with ABS-CBN or Congress would give his group a tough time renewing the franchises of PLDT and Meralco,” Babbler said.

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Babbler said Pangilinan had initially considered putting on hold the ABS-CBN and SkyCable deals until his team conducted backroom talks with Congress to address their concerns.

But he quickly made up his mind to terminate the deals, announced just three weeks ago, after getting the chilling message from some powerful members of Congress.

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Both PLDT and Meralco are subsidiaries of Metro Pacific Investments Inc. (MPI) which also owns TV5 and Cignal under Mediaquest Holdings.

Meralco’s 25-year franchise is set to expire on 9 June 2028 and PLDT’s franchise will lapse on November 28 of the same year.

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Although PLDT and Meralco still have six years to seek another 25-year extension, Babbler said it was a distinct possibility that MPI could lose its franchises just like the Lopezes lost theirs when then President Rodrigo Duterte prodded Congress to block ABS-CBN’s franchise application during his term.

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“Pangilinan realized the risks were too high to call Congress’ bluff as seen from the sad fate of ABS-CBN. The owners could have pushed harder for a renewal during the more hospitable Aquino administration, but they thought they could get their way even under any administration. They misjudged Duterte and how far he would go to give payback to those who slighted him,” Babbler said.