Duterte Invites China to Enter Philippine Mobile-Phone Market

  • Philippine president says offer made in talks with Premier Li
  • No specific Chinese company selected yet, spokesman says

Customers inside a Globe Telecom tore in Manila.

Photographer: Veejay Villafranca/Bloomberg

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has invited Chinese companies to take a role in the country’s wireless communications industry to add a third carrier to compete with PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc.

Duterte offered China the right to operate in the Philippines during his bilateral talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang last week, Duterte spokesman Harry Roque told reporters in Manila Monday. No specific Chinese company has been invited, while the government is waiting for Chinese telecom carriers to submit proposals, Roque said. Representatives from Li’s office could not be immediately reached for comment.

The Philippine leader, who has sought warmer ties with China amid a territorial dispute between the two countries over parts of the South China Sea, has vowed to open the telecommunications sector to new players to improve service. PLDT and Globe became the only wireless carriers when the San Miguel Corp. conglomerate sold its nascent wireless phone carrier to those companies for 70 billion pesos ($1.4 billion).

“The telecommunications duopoly is about to end,” Roque said.

PLDT, the former telephone monopoly, is 20 percent owned by units of Japan’s Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. The legal limit on foreign ownership of a telecommunications carrier in the Philippines is 40 percent.

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