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PLDT, the largest Philippine phone company, sank as a 48 billion peso ($866 million) four-year capital spending overrun raised questions about its corporate governance and fiscal control. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Manila: PLDT Inc. is in talks with suppliers and vendors to cancel some projects and seek discounts as the Philippines’ biggest phone company by revenue aims to cut its 48-billion peso ($860 million) spending overrun.

“The discussion also includes the possible replacement of certain projects that will be cancelled, with new projects that will improve revenue growth and customer experience,” PLDT said in a statement to the Philippine Stock Exchange Tuesday.

PLDT shares climbed 2.6 per cent Tuesday, recovering some lost ground since its record 19 per cent drop on December 19. Earlier in the day, the company disclosed that Chairman Manuel Pangilinan and President Alfredo Panlilio bought PLDT shares on the day of the record plunge.

PLDT is under probe by the bourse and the Securities and Exchange Commission after announcing on December 16 that it exceeded its four-year capital outlays from 2019 by 48 billion pesos, raising concerns over corporate governance and fiscal controls at the nearly 100-year-old company that also has one of the largest capitalization among Philippine firms.

The company said last week an ongoing review of what happened showed there was “no fraud, no anomalies, no evidence of overpricing, and no unrecorded transactions in relation to the overrun.” PLDT Chairman Pangilinan said there will be no write-off of assets purchased with the bulk of the overspend that included 5G cell sites for its mobile network.

The previously unreported spending will be booked from this year and next, and could stretch to 2024 should there be delays, it said in the stock exchange filing, made in response to reports in the Philippine Daily Inquirer which the bourse had asked PLDT to clarify.

PSE President Ramon Monzon in a December 22 interview said the exchange had asked PLDT to clarify its announcement that it did not uncover any anomaly, overpricing nor unrecorded transactions when PLDT’s own review is ongoing.

The company, in a separate statement to the exchange on Tuesday, said its “forensic investigation is still ongoing. Thus far, no fraudulent transaction, procurement anomaly, or loss has been identified or uncovered.”