NTC junks Globe bid to defer hearing
THE National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Wednesday denied the petition of Globe Telecom Inc. to delay the approval of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company's acquisition of Digitel.
Dennis Babaran, head of NTC's legal department, said the recent decision of the Supreme Court on PLDT's possible violation of foreign ownership limits has "not yet attained the status of finality."
The High Tribunal earlier directed the Securities and Exchange Commission to determine if PLDT violated the Constitutional provision that limits foreign ownership of public utilities to 40 percent.
"Hence, it does not, as of yet, form Philippine jurisprudence on which to base the suspension of proceedings, much less the dismissal of the instant case," Babaran said in an order.
In its motion, Globe said it was necessary to cancel or suspend public hearings on PLDT's purchase of a controlling stake in Digital Telecommunications Phils. Inc. because of the recent Supreme Court ruling.
"PLDT cannot legally buy the initial 55.55 percent of the controlling capital or voting shares of Digitel because PLDT is not a Philippine national or a legal domestic public utility but a foreign corporation as held by the Supreme Court in its recent PLDT ruling," Globe said.
PLDT is seeking NTC approval of its P69.2 billion acquisition of a 51.5-percent stake in Digitel owned by JG Summit Holdings Inc.
Derek Lim, Globe legal counsel, told reporters that he was not surprised with the NTC order denying the telco's motion.
"If warranted, we will seek a motion for reconsideration," he added.
Arnold Corporal, PLDT legal counsel, expects the hearing to wrap up by Monday.
"Unless the decision becomes final, there is no reason to suspend the hearings," he added.
Babaran said the continuation of the presentation of Globe's evidence is scheduled on July 18.
PLDT aims to secure regulatory approval of its acquisition of Digitel by the end of this month. The deal was supposed to have been consummated on June 30.
Besides Globe, other telcos such as Eastern Telecommunications Philippines Inc. and Sealand Telecommunications Inc., as well as consumer groups TXTMate, SLaM and TXTPower are blocking the PLDT-Digitel deal because of the negative repercussions on industry competition and consumer interest.
State-run Philippine Institute for Development Studies earlier said the PLDT-Digitel deal may affect competition because of high entry barriers and the absence of effective competition.
PLDT shares climbed to P2,360 apiece on Wednesday from P2,338 the day before, while Globe rose to P901 from P895.
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