Eastern Telecommunications Philippines (ETPI) has announced plans to invest PHP600 million (USD12.96 million) this year to kick-start the company’s migration onto a next generation network (NGN) platform. According to The Manila Bulletin citing Eastern CEO Eric O Recto, ‘Eastern will be the first telecommunications company in the Philippines that will be on a pure NGN platform. We are developing new, IP-based products and services-and are proud to be leading this trend.’
In a report to ISM Communications shareholders, the company which owns 57.7% of Eastern, Recto said the planned upgrade would ‘prepare Eastern Telecoms for the products and services that will soon be the norm in the telephony and communications industries. This is critical, as business will soon revolve around all things internet.’ The CAPEX programme is being funded through a combination of internally generated funds and capital infusion from existing shareholders, he said. Eastern managed a remarkable turnaround in its fiscal year ending December 2006. After five years in the red, it posted net income of PHP30 million in 2006, versus a loss of PHP530 million the previous year. The recovery has been attributed in the main to a significant cost-cutting programme, a corporate reorganisation, the restructuring of outstanding loans, the settlement of vendor claims, and dividend income from its investment in a cable ship operator.
Eastern Telecom’s other shareholders are Smart Telecommunications Inc. (10%), the Presidential Commission on Good Government (10%), and other minority shareholders. ISM is reportedly in negotiations with Smart and the government for plans to acquire more stakes in the firm.