QTel wants to hike stake in Liberty Telecoms

Posted at 10/13/10 4:30 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The chairman of Qatar Telecom (QTel) said Wednesday the company is looking at increasing its stake in local telecommunications firm Liberty Telecoms Holdings Inc.

"If the rules and regulations allow that and if there is an opportunity, we will do," said Sheikh Abdullah Bin Saud Al-Thani after delivering his keynote speech at the 36th Philippine Business Conference and Expo.

QTel is the partner of conglomerate San Miguel Corp. in Liberty Telecoms, which is undergoing corporate rehabilitation.

QTel, the sole telecommunications provider in Qatar, had bought a 27.12% stake in Liberty Telecoms last year, while San Miguel owns another 32.7% through Vega Telecom Inc.

Vega Telecom has interest in another telco, Bell Telecommunications Philippines Inc.

QTel's top official refused to reveal how much they have invested so far in Liberty Telecoms, but assured they would give their all out support to expand the company.

"The Philippines is a growing market. I know it's one of the most important countries in Asia. So, we have lots of plans to invest here not only in the broadband sector but in others as well," he said, referring to other technologies including fourth generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks.

"In the future, it will be LTE and other more advanced technology. We should not limit our vision only to voice. We are going to expand in the future. So we are in discussions with our partners here. Hopefully, we will do that. We will achieve that," added the QTel official.

Based on its amended rehabilitation plan, Liberty Telecoms will spend P7.15 billion over 10 years to turn its finances around.

Of the amount, P4.53 billion will be spent for the firm's capital expenditure program, P367.75 million for short-term loan payments, P361.81 million for long-term loans, and P336.16 million for payment of other liabilities.