PLDT group to raise BusinessWorld stake to more than 50 pct means BUSINESS

MANILA - The PLDT group is acquiring more than 50 percent of the country's first business newspaper, the telco's chairman said, confirming an report last week.

"I think BusinessWorld needs money with respect to its retirement of its pension fund and maybe certain working capital requirements. So, we are prepared to inject cash needed for those purposes subject to further discussion with the pension fund people," said Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co and MediaQuest Holdings Inc.

MediaQuest holds the media assets of PLDT, which, apart from BusinessWorld, also includes TV5, Cignal, Philippine Daily Inquirer and Philippine Star. is the online news portal of TV5.

Earlier, sources said the cooperative of BusinessWorld decided to issue new shares to MediaQuest, which already has a 30-percent stake in the newspaper.

For years, MediaQuest faced a roadblock in the form of BusinessWorld's Provident Fund, which owns 70 percent of the newspaper. A single "no-vote" from any of the fund's members would prevent any third party from acquiring its stake in the newspaper.

Pangilinan targets to complete the transaction in the next few months in preparation for the launch of TV5's all-English news channel, the CEO TV.

He said BusinessWorld would be one of the sources of business content for the CEO TV.  "We need more analysis of the economic development in the country," Pangilinan said.

Asked if BusinessWorld would be integrated with, Pangilinan said, "In terms of the actual content itself there would be integration. But in terms of actual formulation of the content we want it to be an independent media company." 

Pangilinan said BusinessWorld may be expanded by publishing a weekend edition. "There's a probability that we can consider a weekend edition that summarizes the news of the week. Ako ang model ko is the Financial Times. It's written very well and the analysis is very good and the language of Financial Times is excellent," he said, referring to the British financial broadsheet. 

Pangilinan said the PLDT group is also in talks with the owner of Philippine Star to increase its 20 percent stake in the newspaper. As for the PDI, no similar plan to increase the PLDT group's 18 percent stake is in the cards. "We are happy naman," he said.

Earlier, the PLDT board approved a P750-million investment in its media assets to allow the group to become a multimedia service company. Prior to that, the telco said it was investing an additional P3.6 billion to make "its media assets more visible to the shareholders of PLDT."