Driven to remain No. 1: Al Panlilio blames Duterte, DITO-China Tel, Converge, COVID-19 for PLDT’s elevated spending

Telco giant PLDT said a confluence of factors has led to cost overruns amounting to P48 billion in the past four years.

During a special briefing on Wednesday, PLDT president and CEO Alfredo Panlilio said these include PLDT having to regain network leadership following years of underinvestment, the threat from former president Rodrigo Duterte for telcos to shape up, intense competition in the telco sector with the entry of DITO as well as the emergence of a new rival in the fiber space.

PLDT also cited the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdowns and quarantines, which prompted it to fastback fiber rollouts to cater to the needs of households for work and school.

It, however, will see a reduction in its capital spending by 2023.

“We expect capex to reduce steadily. 2023 will be a year of consolidation as we continue to strengthen and grow the business. We strive to be better,” Panlilio said.

Despite its P48 billion overspend, PLDT said its EBITDA for 2022 would remain unaffected and is on track to hit P100 billion with core net earnings expected to reach between P32.6 billion and P33 billion.

PLDT also expects to be able to pay the balance of the regular dividend for the full year 2022 estimated at P45 per share, and the remaining special dividend of P42 per share. This will bring total dividends for 2022 to P134 per share or 88 percent of this year’s earnings.

The telco giant, chaired by bilyonaryo Manny V. Pangilinan, reiterated that PLDT’s ongoing review has not uncovered any fraud, anomalies, and evidence of overpricing,

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