European telcos may soon enter the Philippine market, thanks to Congress for passing a measure that allows full foreign ownership in the industry.
The proposed measure has made several European companies eye the Philippines. According to Lars Wittig, President of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), the ratification of the bill amending the 85-year old Public Service Act (PSA) is an “absolute massive game-changer and it will create double-digits, billion-dollar investments.”
The measure clearly defines “public utility” as the following: the distribution and transmission of electricity; petroleum and petroleum products pipeline transmission systems; water pipeline distribution systems and wastewater pipeline systems, including sewerage pipeline systems; seaports; and public utility vehicles. All other industries not included will remain public services and will be liberalized or open to 100% foreign ownership.
With this, Wittig said European telcos, that have expressed interest in the 2018 bidding for the third major telecommunications player in the country, “can go back and go for the 51%, 99%, or 100% ownership.”
European telcos that have expressed their intent to participate in the said third telco search were Norwegian telco Telenor, Austria-based Mobiltel, and UK’s Vodafone. However, China Telecom-backed and Udenna-led DITO Telecommunity, formerly known as Mislatel consortium, emerged as the winner.
Maurizio Cellini, first counselor and head of Trade and Economic Affairs of the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines, also emphasized the need for the country to mobilize foreign investors given its potential as a fast-growing economy.
“From an investment angle, the European Union continues to see the Philippines as a large, fast-growing market. However, the Philippines does not succeed in mobilizing European traders and investors in line with its size and potential,” Cellini said.