PLDT cedes control over SPi Global

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MANILA - Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co (PLDT) on Tuesday said it has agreed to sell its business process outsourcing (BPO) unit to a London-based private equity firm.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, PLDT said it had entered into an agreement to sell its wholly-owned subsidiary, SPi Global Holdings Inc, to Asia Outsourcing Gamma Limited, a company controlled by CVC Capital Partners.

"The sale of the BPO business is expected to be completed by March 2013, after satisfaction of agreed closing conditions," PLDT said. UBS acted as exclusive financial adviser to PLDT.

The telco said it will reinvest some of the proceeds from the sale into Asia Outsourcing Gamma Limited and continue to participate in the growth of the business as a partner of CVC, with PLDT having a 20 percent stake.

“We continually review our strategy and our portfolio.  The transaction announced today represents an opportunity for us to realize attractive returns for the benefit of the PLDT group and its stakeholders. At the same time, we are very happy to be a 20 percent partner with CVC in the business going forward as we remain very confident in the long-term prospects of SPi,” Manuel Pangilinan , chairman of PLDT said.

Brian Hong, CVC senior managing director said: “We are happy to be able to partner with PLDT in this transaction and excited to support SPi as it continues to deliver best-in-class BPO services and expanding capabilities to its customers.  We see many significant opportunities within the attractive BPO segments that SPi serves and look forward to working with the exceptional team at SPi in continuing to grow the company.”

Pangilinan had said the proceeds of the sale would be used to reduce PLDT's debts.

At end-September, the telco's debt stood at $3.1 billion, including the $500 million owed by Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc (Digitel), which PLDT acquired two years ago. Digitel operates Sun Cellular.

SPi had said revenues in 2012 likely hit $230 million, up by 14 percent from 2011. In the first nine months, revenues reached P7.3 billion, an increase of 16 percent year-on-year.

SPi's knowledge process solutions business grew by 16 percent as a result of a 19 percent increase in dollar terms from content solutions services and the acquisition of Laserwords.

Revenues from customer relationship management rose 15 percent to P2.4 billion, with domestic sales registering a strong 18 percent growth. In 2011, the PLDT group consolidated its BPO business under SPi. is the online news portal of TV5, a member of the PLDT group.