MANILA,  February 16, 2004 (STAR) By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes - The board of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) is set to name during Thursday’s board meeting company president and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan as chairman and Napoleon Nazareno as its new president, The STAR learned over the weekend.

Also on Thursday, Pangilinan will announce the 2003 financial and operational results of the PLDT group, which is expected to hit a record of close to P11 billion in net income after provisioning, sources revealed.

With the resignation of PLDT chairman Antonio O. Cojuangco last November to focus on his latest acquisition – the Associated Broadcasting Corp. (ABC 5), the board is expected to elevate Pangilinan to the chairman’s position to allow him to concentrate on running PLDT controlling shareholder Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co.

Pangilinan, who was earlier named CEO of First Pacific, had admitted his hands will be full and his schedule tighter, especially now that he is running the day-to-day affairs of First Pacific. The latter is taking on a more active presence in the region in both the telecommunications and food sector, expanding the reach of PLDT-Smart Communications

and Indonesia-based Indofood by acquiring or entering into alliances with other players.

Nazareno, currently president of PLDT cash cow Smart Communication Inc. will be appointed as concurrent president of Smart and PLDT. Nazareno, currently a member of the PLDT board, is the personal choice of Pangilinan to succeed him.

STAR sources said construction work is abuzz at the seventh floor of the Ramon Cojuangco Building which houses the PLDT executive offices since Nazareno‚s room is already being prepared for him.

Meanwhile, following Thursday‚s board meeting, Pangilinan will present the 2003 financial results of the PLDT group.

Sources say that PLDT will exceed all market. A survey of various local brokerage houses believe PLDT will hit a net income in the vicinity of P10.2 billion after provisions. If PLDT tops Globe Telecom’s P10.4 billion net income, then PLDT will be the most profitable publicly listed company in the country today.

Company insiders, however, believe PLDT’s net income

will come closer to P11 billion, especially with Smart already hitting the P13 million subscriber mark as of end-December 2003 with the resounding success Smart‚s "Buddy load’ and "Pasa load."

"This means Pangilinan will be turning over to Nazareno the best managed company, and the most profitable company in the Philippines. With the Talk N’ Text basketball team bagging MVP Willie Miller, Pangilinan will also turn over a championship caliber team. Not a bad starting point for a new president," a company official was quoted as saying.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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