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Philippines Globe Telecom says Q4 subscriber takeup healthy

Date: 1/21/2008 6:01:32 PM

 MANILA (Thomson Financial) Globe Telecom Inc, the Philippines secondlargest mobile phone operator, saw a healthy increase in its mobile phone subscriber base in the last quarter of 2007, its president said Thursday.

It was healthy and in line with our expectations, said Globe president Gerardo Ablaza. He declined to give any figures.

Globe had 19.2 million cellular phone subscribers by the end of September last year, compared to 28.3 million of main rival Philippine Long Distance Telephone (nyse: PHI news people ) (PLDT).

On Wednesday, PLDT said its whollyowned mobile phone unit Smart Communications Inc ended 2007 with more than 30 million subscribers.

Smart, which owns 92 percent of Pilipino Telephone Corp, another mobile phone operator, added more than a million subscribers in the fourth quarter alone.

The countrys third mobile phone operator, Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc (Digitel), has said its subscriber base more than doubled to 5.5 million by early December from a year earlier. It surpassed its target of over 4 million subscribers by the end of 2007.

Subscriber takeup by Philippine mobile phone operators was surprisingly strong in 2007, after industry executives previously predicted a slower pace of growth compared to previous years. Stiff competition continued but both Globe and PLDT reported higher revenue in the first nine months.

Globes core net profit, which strips out the impact of foreign exchange and marktomarket gains and losses as well as nonrecurring costs related to bond redemption, jumped 20 percent to a record 10.5 billion pesos in the first nine month.

For the nine months to September, PLDTs core net profit rose 13 percent to 26.2 billion pesos. This prompted the company to upgrade its fullyear guidance to 34.535 billion pesos from 32 billion pesos previously.

Globe is controlled by Philippine conglomerate Ayala Corp and partly owned by Singapore Telecommunications.

PLDT is controlled by Hong Konglisted conglomerate First Pacific Co Ltd (otherotc: FPAFF.PK news people ) and partly owned by Japanese mobile phone operator NTT DoCoMo (nyse: DCM news people ).

In contrast, Digitel remained in the red as it continued to spend heavily for aggressive rollout activities in order to attract more customers.

Digitel posted a net loss of 229 million pesos for the first nine months of 2007 narrower compared to the net loss of 880.5 million pesos recorded in the same period in 2006. The improvement was attributed to foreign exchange gains.

Digitel, controlled by FilipinoChinese tycoon John Gokongwei, was recently rumored to have attracted a number of interested buyers including Government of Singapore Investment Corp.

Last week, Digitel said it had no knowledge of any unsolicited proposal from any party.

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