PLDT says growth ‘getting tougher’ in telco industry, eyes lower capex

PLDT Inc. anticipates a challenging year for the telecommunications industry and plans to reduce its capital expenditure (capex) budget, the company’s chairman said.

“The problem with the industry has always been growth. It is also getting tougher and tougher to realize growth across the board,” Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman, president, and chief executive officer (CEO) of PLDT, told reporters on Thursday.

Despite industry challenges, Mr. Pangilinan expressed optimism for PLDT’s wireless business, expecting improved performance.

However, Toby Allan C. Arce, an analyst from Globalinks Securities and Stocks, Inc., said there may be increased profitability for telecommunications companies this year, but he cautioned that factors such as competition, network upgrade expenses, regulatory hurdles, and cybersecurity threats could influence profitability.

“The industry faces a potential obstacle in the form of cybersecurity attacks, which may persist and escalate in the coming years,” he said in a Viber message.

LOWER CAPEXMr. Pangilinan said the company’s capex budget may be lowered this year.

“We are getting a better idea of what the carry-over capex is from the issues related to 2022. It is likely to be overall lower than in 2023,” he said.

PLDT had set a capex guidance of P80 billion to P85 billion for 2023, which was also significantly lower than the P96.8 billion the company spent in 2022. 

To recall, the company announced in 2022 that it would begin reducing its capex budget starting in 2023 after discovering a P48-billion capex overrun.

PLDT met its capex target for 2023, Mr. Pangilinan said.

At the same time, he said that PLDT is currently searching for the next president and CEO after Alfredo S. Panlilio resigned from the role due to health reasons.

Mr. Pangilinan is temporarily holding Mr. Panlilio’s position until the company appoints a replacement.

Meanwhile, PLDT’s technology services company PLDT Global Corp. launched its collaboration with Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

The two parties have partnered to launch a new service that would allow Filipinos abroad to access OWWA’s helpline through PLDT Global’s  one-stop online marketplace, TINBO.

At the local bourse on Thursday, shares in the company closed P24 or 1.87% lower at P1,260 apiece.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Ashley Erika O. Jose