PLDT falls after fund manager warns of pullout

Posted at 01/08/13 12:03 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Shares in Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co (PLDT)  retreated from nine-week highs after a local newspaper report said a global asset manager had threatened to pull out its investment from the telecoms company. 

PLDT dropped as much as 0.9 percent after the Manila Standard Today newspaper reported Lazard Asset Management LLC might sell its PLDT shares because of concerns over proposed changes in the rules on foreign ownership of Philippine companies. 

The pullback of PLDT, the country's second most valuable company, weighed on the main index  , which fell as much as 0.3 percent shortly after setting a new record high at the start of trading. 

"We have been shareholders of PLDT for over a decade and are concerned that the proposed changes may negatively impact the country as a destination of capital," Rohit Chopra, portfolio manager of Lazard, was quoted as saying in a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

The SEC is looking at expanding the 40 percent foreign ownership limit to apply to all classes of shares in a company, rather than just common or voting shares, following a Supreme Court ruling last year that PLDT had breached the cap. 

The issue on foreign ownership rules "should be watched closely," said Joseph Roxas, president of brokerage Eagle Equities Inc in Manila.