NTT mulling Philippine telco investment

Nippon Telegraph & Telephone (NTT) may invest in the Philippine's national telecommunications carrier as part of a plan to grow its presence in Asia, a spokeswoman at the Japanese company said yesterday.

The target of NTT's potential investment is the Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT), which is reportedly touting for equity investments from other telecom carriers. The president of Manila-based PLDT expects to finalise an agreement with NTT within the first half of the year, according to a report yesterday in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's leading business daily newspaper.

NTT has not decided whether it will make the investment, the NTT spokeswoman said. PLDT is seeking a total cash infusion of between $US500 million and $1 billion this year, according to yesterday's newspaper report.

The Japanese telecom giant is expanding its ties to other Asian carriers in preparation for July when deregulation in Japan will split the telco into three companies under one holding company. In addition to the breakup, NTT will be able to offer full international service for the first time in its history.

Last month, NTT said it will up its investment in Smart Communications, another Filipino telecom provider and competitor to PLDT. NTT is also the organiser of the Asian Multimedia Forum, an industry group of mostly Asian telecom companies.

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