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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Benpres Up

Benpres swings to profit with improved Maynilad operations

BENPRES Holdings Corp. reported a net income of 297 million pesos in the January-June semester, compared with a net loss of 191 million pesos in the same period last year, owing to an improvement in operations of Maynilad Water Services Inc.

Benpres, a holding company of the Lopez group, has interests in broadcasting, telecommunications, power, and property development. It did not disclose its april-June results.

In notes accompanying its results, Benpres said January-June revenues rose 37 percent to 5.2 billion pesos from 3.7 billion pesos in the same semester last year.

It said net sales and services grew 48 percent to 3.8 billion pesos from 2.6 billion pesos, primarily reflecting an improvement in operations of Maynilad, the water concessionaire in the western part of Metro Manila.

"The water utility continues to operate normally following the approval of its court-assisted rehabilitation in June," Benpres said.

Benpres in July turned over to a court-appointed receiver all its shares and proxies in Maynilad, signaling the start of the water distributor's rehabilitation following years of losses.

Benpres said equity in net earnings of investees increased by 36 percent in the January-June semester on account of associate First Philippine Holdings Corp.'s equity in First Power Generation Corp., which produces electricity for affiliate Manila Electric Co.

First Holdings booked a January-June net income of 1.97 billion pesos, down six percent year-on-year from 2.09 billion pesos.

Unit ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp.'s net income fell 67 percent to 185 million pesos from 560 million pesos.

Benpres said it also booked eight million pesos in gain from the sale of 10.5 million shares in Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc. in April.

The company reported costs and expenses of 5.01 billion pesos, up 15 percent from 4.3 billion pesos in January-June 2004. With INQ7.net

Friday, August 12, 2005

ABS-CBN Cuts Costs

ABS-CBN to lay off 210 more

Clarissa Batino
Inquirer News Service

TWO HUNDRED and ten more employees of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. are going to lose their jobs between now and October, casualties of the network giant's strategy to cut cost and regain its lead.

"We plan to (terminate) 360 employees or 20 percent of our workforce by September or early October," ABS-CBN president Luis Alejandro said. "This is part of our restructuring to cut cost."

Alejandro said the company had laid off 150 employees so far. It had also reduced by half the number of its management officers, from 12 to six.

The Lopez-owned network said it would save P350 million a year from the salaries of the employees to be fired.

The savings compare with the retirement benefits, expected to cost about P500 million, that the company will have to provide. The benefits will be financed from the proceeds of a new deal struck by its profitable global unit.

ABS-CBN has 1,800 regular employees. Of the 150 who lost their jobs, 35 were editors and reporters under News and Current Affairs. The 35 got the best termination package, according to sources.

The 150 employees received three months' salary for every year of service, which translated, according to sources, millions of pesos to several highly-ranked employees.

"We started with the News and Current Affairs, then sales and marketing, then we are doing the engineering department this week to next week," said Alejandro.

He said even the network's talents were asked to "cooperate" in the effort to cut costs.

Several celebrities, he said, had agreed to reductions in their talent fees and no talent got an increase. "This should translate to savings of about 10 percent of our costs," said Alejandro, who declined to name the stars who took pay cuts.

"We are sticking to our three-point recovery plan. The strategies of focusing on prime time ratings, optimizing production cost and cutting expenses will be continuing," Alejandro said.

ABS-CBN's Earnings Up

ABS-CBN net P185M in 1st half

Inquirer News Service

WITH robust sales at its overseas subsidiary, ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. has reversed from a first-quarter net loss and ended the first half of the year with a net income of P185 million.

The television and radio company of the Lopez group suffered a January-March net loss of P114 million but registered an April-June net profit of P299.37 million.

The six-month profit is down 67 percent from P560 million in the same period last year, but ABS-CBN officials see an improving trend bodes well for the broadcast giant.

Prospects have improved in the July-September quarter, said chief financial officer Randolph Estrellado, citing a year-on-year rise in revenue in July, the first this year.

"The ratings have stabilized compared to the lows in April," Estrellado said. "We are seeing continuing improvements in the numbers."

Company president Luis Alejandro said that next year ABS-CBN would try to regain leadership in ratings and earnings.

ABS-CBN's rating share in Metro Manila improved recently to 38 percent from 27 percent in January-April.

Fierce rival GMA Network Inc. accounted for 43 percent.

"Channel 7 [GMA Network] is nowhere in sight outside of Metro Manila," Alejandro said.

ABS-CBN is taking comfort in its leadership outside of Metro Manila and nearby areas and overseas. As of the April-June quarter, Estrellado said, ABS-CBN was ahead of its competitor in Iloilo City, hometown of the Lopez family.

ABS-CBN Global recorded a sales rise of 19 percent to P1.87 billion, with subscribers up 22 percent, translating to 1.7 million viewers worldwide.

Airtime revenue was down six percent at P5.1 billion from last year's P5.4 billion.

Revenues of other subsidiaries, such as ABS-CBN Films and Star Records, were also down. Clarissa S. Batino, with INQ7.net

Monday, August 08, 2005


PHILIPPINES PRESS: Globe Weighs Acquiring ABS-CBN Stake

MANILA (Dow Jones)--Globe Telecom Inc. (GLO.PH) expressed interest in acquiring a stake in ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. (ABS.PH), the Philippine Star reports, citing an unnamed ABS-CBN official.

Globe, which the Philippines' second-largest telecommunications group after Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PHI), hasn't made a formal bid for the ABS-CBN stake, but that "feelers" have been sent, the official said, according to the report.
While ABS-CBN doesn't need new investors at the moment, it "would listen to any group that wants to make an offer," said the official, according to the report.

ABS-CBN is the country's largest media broadcast network.

Telecommunications companies are seeking partners in the broadcast industry due to limited growth in the cellular business, the official said, according to the report. "They need value added services where broadcast content providers play a major role," said the official, the newspaper reports.