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PLDT and Rocket Internet in strategic agreement

Staff writer |
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Rocket Internet AG have entered into a global strategic partnership to drive the development of online and mobile payment solutions in emerging markets.

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Under the terms of the partnership agreement PLDT will invest €333 million for a 10 percent stake in Rocket. PLDT's investment terms reflect its long-term commitment to Rocket and its unique ability to combine PLDT's world-class mobile money expertise and resources with Rocket's global platform to drive future value enhancing growth opportunities.

Concurrent with the investment, PLDT and Rocket will jointly develop mobile and online payment technologies and services in emerging markets. The partnership will leverage PLDT's experience and intellectual property in mobile payments and remittance platforms, together with Rocket's global technology platform, to provide products and services for the “unbanked, uncarded and unconnected” population in emerging markets.

Rocket provides a platform for the rapid creation and scaling of consumer internet businesses outside the U.S. and China. Rocket has more than 20,000 employees in its network of companies across over 100 countries, with aggregated revenues in excess of €700 million in 2013.

Its most prominent brands include leading Southeast Asian e-Commerce businesses Zalora and Lazada, as well as fast growing brands with strong positions in their markets such as Dafiti, Linio, Jumia, Namshi, Lamoda, Jabong, Westwing, Home24 and HelloFresh, in Latin America, Africa, Middle East, Russia, India and Europe. Alongside e-Commerce and marketplaces, financial technology and payments comprise Rocket's third sector where it anticipates numerous and significant growth opportunities.

PLDT's wireless subsidiary, Smart Communications Inc., is itself a global pioneer in mobile banking and mobile wallet services. It has introduced several world-first mobile payment innovations in domestic and global markets, including markets where up to 4 out of 5 people are "unbanked". Its services include online money transfers, payments, disbursement, banking and security, and it has been recognised with awards from the United Nations, USAID and the GSMA.

PLDT's investment in Rocket will be in new shares issued by the company, of the same class and bearing the same rights as shares held by current investors. As part of the investment, PLDT will hold the right to appoint one member of Rocket's nine person Supervisory Board.

PLDT will fund the investment from available cash and new debt, with no significant impact on PLDT's leverage ratios and funding costs. PLDT joins Investment AB Kinnevik and Access Industries as the third external investor in Rocket, in addition to Global Founders GmbH (formerly: European Founders Fund GmbH).

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