Congress OKs Mislatel's transfer to Dennis Uy-China Telecom group

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 23) — Businessman Dennis Uy's bid to be the third player in the telecommunications industry can now move forward after changes to the franchise of Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company, Inc. (Mislatel) cleared Congress.

The House of Representatives on Monday adopted the changes to Mislatel's franchise, which was approved by the Senate in February.

House Concurrent Resolution No. 23 approves the sale of additional Mislatel shares to Uy's Udenna Corp., its subsidiary Chelsea Logistics Holdings, Inc., and China Telecommunications Corp. (Chinatel), following the selection of this consortium as the "new major player" in the industry. 

Mislatel's new ownership structure will give a 35 percent stake to Udenna, 25 percent to Chelsea Logistics, and 40 percent to Chinatel. Through this, the Udenna-Chelsea-Chinatel group will have the majority and controlling interest in Mislatel, allowing them to take over its operations. 

Mislatel secured a 25-year franchise in April 19, 1998 to operate a wire and/or wireless telecommunications system in the Philippines. It expires by 2023.

Congress has the sole authority to approve franchises. Under the law, franchise holders need to secure Congressional approval before selling or transferring shares of stock which will change a firm's ownership structure.

The company tied up with Udenna Corp. and Chinatel in 2018, and was eventually chosen by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to be the third major player for mobile services in the country.

READ: Mislatel vows 27 mbps internet speed in 1st year

The third major telco player committed to cover 37 percent of subscribers on its first year and will rise to 84 percent in its fifth year. It also promised to put up a thousand cell sites in a year.

Last month, state-owned Chinatel signed a $5.4-billion investment deal with Udenna to support their foray into the Philippines as the third mobile service provider. They are expected to improve competition as they go against Smart Communications and Globe Telecom, following President Rodrigo Duterte's order to break this duopoly in the telecommunications market. ​

On Thursday, Chelsea Logistics said they have been informed about Congress' approval, adding that they are now preparing to file a request to increase Mislatel's capitalization before the NTC.

"Thereafter, Mislatel will file the required documents with the NTC under the terms of reference, which is a prerequisite to the issuance of the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, and the grant of frequencies," the listed firm said in a disclosure.

Mislatel has committed to invest ₱257 billion in the next five years, and is eyeing its commercial rollout by late 2020.