PLDT to divest €163.2-M holdings in Rocket Internet

DIGITAL services provider PLDT Inc. plans to divest as much as two thirds of its shares in Rocket Internet for about €163.2 million (P12.08 billion) to fund its capital expenditures for 2018.

In a filing with the stock exchange, the company said its indirect subsidiary PLDT Online Investments Pte. Ltd. has committed to accept the public-share offer of Rocket Internet for at least 6.8 million shares, or about 67.4 percent of its total shares in the German company.

Rocket Internet earlier announced the buyback of up to 15.47 million shares through a public-share purchase offer against payment of an offer price in the amount of €24 (P1,716.4848) per share.

“What matters for us is the book value. The offer price is €24 per share and, at the end of 2017, the shares were booked at €21.125 [P1,567.517] per share. So, to us, it is a gain,” PLDT Spokesman Ramon R. Isberto said via phone.

If greater than 15.47 million Rocket shares are tendered, the Rocket shares to be sold by PLDT will be reduced proportionally.

Currently, the Filipino telco owns 6.1 percent of Rocket.

Should Rocket buy back all 6.8 million shares, the Manuel V. Pangilinan-led company will reduce its ownership in Rocket to merely 2 percent. This may result in PLDT’s losing its board seat in Rocket.

The final number of PLDT tendered shares accepted by Rocket will be determined after the offer period, expected to end on May 2.

Isberto noted the proceeds of the divestment will be used to partly finance the company’s P58-billion capital expenditures for this year.

“This will fund the capital expenditures for 2018,” he said.

PLDT invested in Rocket Internet in 2014 roughly €333 million (P24.648 billion) for a 10-percent shareholding that would enable both companies to venture into partnerships in the e-commerce arena.

It has since been a roller-coaster ride for the Filipino company in Germany, where shares of Rocket registered skyrocketing highs and nosediving lows.

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