Economy 3 MIN READ

PLDT, PSE say no fraud involved in P48-B overrun

December 21, 2022By BusinessWorld

PLDT, Inc. maintained on Wednesday that its probe into the PHP 48-billion budget overrun has so far yielded no evidence of fraudulent activity.

“PLDT has not unearthed fraudulent activities in relation to the capex (capital expenditure) overrun,” the company told the stock exchange before meeting analysts and investors for a “special briefing” at the Dusit Thani hotel in Makati City.

“The business and the outlook for the business continue to remain healthy,” it added.

Meanwhile, Philippine Stock Exchange, Inc. (PSE) President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Monzon said a preliminary investigation revealed no indication of fraudulent trades before the company’s announcement regarding its massive budget overrun on Friday last week.

“We look at buying and selling and basically, a lot of transactions are institutional trades, not personal trades, and mostly by foreign brokers,” Mr. Monzon told the ANC television program.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating the alleged “sell-off in shares” before the disclosure. It directed PSE and Capital Markets Integrity Corp. to submit initial reports on their investigation into the trading activities that resulted in the sudden and sharp decline in the share prices of PLDT before the announcement.

“We’ve actually looked at trading activity last Friday before the disclosure, and we’re not limiting our inquiry or investigation to that particular day. We’re looking at the PLDT trade for the last month and a half, about late October to last Friday,” Mr. Monzon said.

At the special briefing in Makati, PLDT Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, who avoided the press, explained to investors and analysts the company’s decisions on its elevated capex, according to an attendee who requested anonymity.

“They explained the decisions on the capex whether the purchases were within the budget,” the attendee told reporters.

PLDT’s Jeremiah M. de la Cruz, senior vice-president and head for consumer business, said separately that the company’s officials are “working together as one team.”

“It’s business as usual” for home business, he added.

PLDT shares closed 19.35% lower at PHP 1,192 apiece on Monday after its announcement on Friday of the capex overrun. The stock was down 28.54% from its PHP 1,668 peak last week.

According to the company, it is undertaking a management reorganization process and has initiated improvements in its processes and systems to address weaknesses.

The PHP 48-billion budget overrun represents 12.7% of PLDT’s P379-billion capital expenditure over the past four years.

PLDT shares closed 5.04% higher at PHP 1,250 apiece on Wednesday. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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