(STAR) By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes - The board of telecommunications giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) outlined yesterday strategic plans for the next three years, focused on the development of new revenue streams to drive future growth while protecting its existing core communications business.

The company said it intends to continue pursuing the development of next generation services on its wireless and fixed line infrastructures, expand broadband and other data services, exploit opportunities in the content side to complete the triple-play potential, as well as increase its participation in the call center/business process outsourcing (BPO) sector.

Earlier, PLDT group chairman Manuel Pangilinan noted that the mobile industry will continue to grow but not as spectacular as before. But double-digit growth rates are expected to be realized from the data and broadband Internet business.

He said the data side of the business as well as information and communications technology (ICT) will remain the main drivers in terms of revenue growth. Out of the P61 billion in service revenues realized by the group, about 43 percent were realized from data compared to only 39 percent last year. "By next year, half of our revenues will be data-driven and by 2008, data will be exceeding voice," he added.

Consolidated data revenue increased 12 percent during the six months to June 2006 to P26.1 billion, offsetting a five-percent decline in traditional voice revenues.

Pangilinan added: "Over the medium term, our goals are to continue achieving growth in our core businesses while establishing new revenue streams from recent investments, principally SPi. Our strong cash flows provide us with this "triple play" ability – new investments, sustained capital expenditures and increasing dividend yields. In this way, we address shareholder needs both for the present and for the longer term."

ePLDT recently acquired SPi Technologies, the second largest pure-play BPO company and the ninth largest independent BPO service provider in the world.

The company is also exploring the acquisition, through SPi, of a US-based medical transcription company with a revenue base of about $20 million, to further SPi’s goal of becoming a significant player in the growing health care outsourcing industry.

He also emphasized that this year will be a year to lay the foundation for earnings growth in 2007 and onwards.

The PLDT board also approved a new long-term incentive plan covering 2007 to 2009 to ensure the proper execution of the group’s three-year plans as presented - particularly with respect to the manpower resources being committed to such plans.

Officials explained that the establishment of the new LTIP for the next three years – the award of which is contingent upon the successful achievement of certain targets – aligns the execution of the new business strategies of the group over the same period.

"In addition, the new LTIP ensures the continuity of management and assists in succession planning for the group. It also allows the PLDT Group to cover new hires and key management in newly acquired businesses to participate in the new LTIP as well as support a more aggressive retention and pruning process," the company said.

It added that the strategic plans and the new LTIP intimately align the PLDT shareholders and management in achieving the profit targets and the resulting increase in shareholder value created from the successful execution of the strategic plans over the plan period.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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