PLDT says not in talks to buy Philippine Airlines

Posted at 09/22/11 3:20 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Airlines (PAL) on Thursday denied reports it was in talks about a sale of a controlling stake to First Pacific Co. Ltd., whose unit Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) also said it was not looking to buy the carrier.

PLDT and PAL issued separate disclosures after several local newspapers reported PLDT chairman Manuel Pangilinan, who is also managing director of Hong Kong-based First Pacific, was in "deep talks" to buy the airline, citing a source close to the executive.

"PLDT denies any intention to acquire PAL," the telecom firm told the stock exchange.

PAL Holdings, which owns carrier, said it was not in discussion with First Pacific.

Philippine Daily Inquirer reported Pangilinan had agreed to buy PAL once a labor row at the flag carrier was resolved, citing an unnamed businessman with close ties to him.

"The discussions are already on a serious stage, Manny (Pangilinan) has been eyeing PAL for a long time," the paper quoted the source as saying.

The Manila Standard Today, citing a source familiar with the talks, said, First Pacific had "agreed in principle" to acquire PAL.

In its statement to the stock exchange, PLDT said it was one of the incorporators of Pacific One Global Aviation Co. Inc., and would spin off its aircraft into the newly formed aviation firm.

"The creation of this company is part of the rationalisation of PLDT Group's internal aviation requirements," PLDT said.

Shares of PLDT fell 2.3% while PAL rose 3.3% on Thursday in a market that dropped 2.6%.