Owners of GMA Network Inc. ended year-long talks to sell a minority stake in the Philippines broadcaster to San Miguel Corp. president Ramon Ang.
Talks between three shareholders that control a majority of the stock and Ang are “deemed terminated,” GMA said in a stock-exchange filing on Tuesday, without providing a reason. The owners will wait to see how “other interested parties will react to this development,” GMA chairman Felipe Gozon said in a phone interview, when asked about the decision.
The Gozon, Jimenez and Duavit families own a combined 79 percent of the network, which airs on Channel 7 on free TV.
Ang, who had planned to invest in the media company in a personal capacity, said he was surprised by the announcement and was now consulting his lawyer.
“I did not expect this. There was no indication they would do this in the middle of negotiations,” Ang said.
Majority shareholders of the broadcaster agreed 12 months ago to sell about 30 percent of the company to Ang. That agreement was announced months after Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. ended a round of talks with the broadcaster.
Shares of GMA fell 0.6 percent to P6.29 at the close of trading, halting a three-day advance. PLDT rose 0.5 percent, its first gain in five days.
“If PLDT wants to dominate the Internet space, it needs the content which GMA can provide,” Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist at BDO Unibank Inc. said in a phone interview. “This is their second chance.”
PLDT’s multi-platform business model requires working with content providers, chairman Manuel Pangilinan said in a mobile- phone message, when asked if the company was open to renewing talks with GMA. “We’re open to any arrangement that marries platforms with content in whatever space.”
Gozon earlier said he was no longer sure if the deal would push through as the ball was in the court of Mr. Ang.
Gozon clarified there was no fixed deadline on the closure of the transaction with Ang, “but it should be done within a reasonable period which is not defined.” Ang offered to acquire at least 30 percent of GMA for P10.80 per share. Ang’s offer was higher than the P9 billion offered by the PLDT Group.
Astro del Castillo, managing director of First Grade Finance Inc., said the disagreement over “price” might be one of the reasons for the termination of the negotiations.
Del Castillo added it was not the ending of the “love story” between Mr. Ang and the majority shareholders of GMA, “as long as the offer is good enough, I think they are willing to sell their shares.”
Gozon earlier said he had talks with a new prospective investor he declined to identify.
When asked if the talks with the PLDT Group of Manuel Pangilinan could be revived, Gozon had said “anything is possible.”
Pangilinan in a recent interview said the company ‘was very open to anything.”