PSE frowns on Now for its ‘4th telco player’ claim

Published February 18, 2021, 8:00 AM

by Edgard Hilario

The Philippine Stock Exchange has chided Now Corporation of Mel Velarde for misleading the investing public with its claim that it was granted “fourth telecommunications player” status by the National Telecommunications Commission.

The PSE said Now Corp. had no “sufficient basis” when it declared itself as the country’s fourth telco player behind PLDT-Smart, Globe and Dito Telecommunity. Now Corporation’s claim was only one of three violations cited by the PSE in imposing sanctions against the company.

The violations, which were published at the PSE’s own website, also included its delayed disclosure of the issuance by the NTC of the order extending the provisional authority of Now Telecom Company, Inc., an affiliate, to install, operate and maintain a nationwide mobile telecommunications system (the “NTC Order”); and the release to the news media of the material information regarding the NTC Order without prior or simultaneous disclosure to the PSE.

In a statement issued to multiple media outlets, Now announced “As the country’s fourth telco, NOW Telecom, an affiliate of publicly listed telecommunications, media, and technology firm Now Corp., is currently setting the stage for its public listing as well as its 5G or fifth generation network rollout.” 

The declaration was made after the NTC granted a provisional authority to its subsidiary five months ago. But Now Corp.’s claim was debunked by the Department of Information and Communication Technology as baseless and that it has never been billed as the country’s 4th telco, with DICT Secretary Gringo Honasan telling Senator Imee Marcos in a Senate hearing: “Now Telecom is not yet the fourth telco. From where we see it, after further inquiry, it’s not yet the fourth telco.”

Former DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio sees Now’s assertion of being the fourth telco was aimed to boost its stocks as its share prices soared 50 percent to P3.58 when it issued its publicity on September 1, 2020.