ABS-CBN, once The Philippines largest broadcast group, said Thursday that it would sell its internet and broadband division Sky Cable to PLDT, the country’s biggest telecoms company.
The transaction is valued at $123 million and means that ABS-CBN will focus even more on content production and distribution.
“The proceeds from the sale of the shares of ABS-CBN and the settlement of Sky Vision’s obligations to ABS-CBN will be used by ABS-CBN to settle and fund its retirement obligations. The sale of the company’s ownership in Sky will also allow ABS-CBN to focus its resources on content creation,” ABS-CBN said. Since losing its TV licenses, it distributes it content via its own streaming business and on Facebook and YouTube.
ABS-CBN was stripped of its TV licenses in 2020 during the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte, apparently for criticizing some of his policies and refusing to air some of his campaign advertisements. In the final days before he left office, Duterte admitted that he had used his “presidential powers” to influence the decision.
The deal is likely to be subject to closing conditions, including approval from the government.
The companies explained that Sky’s cable and pay-TV business will be closed down in order for the deal to escape antitrust scrutiny. PLDT’s pay-TV affiliate Cignal is currently Sky’s main rival and previously bid for a 39% stake in Sky.
PLDT said the new transaction would lead to the combination of PLDT and Sky and bring upgraded services to the subscribers of both.
“The proposed transaction is aligned with PLDT’s mission to narrow the digital divide by expanding broadband connectivity and supports the government’s push to expand the nation’s digital infrastructure,” PLDT said.
In January 2023, the National Telecommunications Commission handed ABS-CBN’s old frequencies to Advanced Media Broadcasting System. AMBS was formed in September last year and is backed Duterte ally, billionaire and former senate president Manuel Villar.