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PLDT: Class action suit filed vs. current, former execs

Telecommunications giant PLDT Inc. on Tuesday said that a class action lawsuit has been filed against former and current executives of the company before a United States court.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, PLDT said it “has learned that a securities class action lawsuit was commenced on February 6, 2023 by Sophia Olsson, a purported holder of PLDT securities, in the United States federal district court in the Central District of California.”

The telco said the complaint names as defendants PLDT and nine of its current and former employees.

PLDT, however, said that it “has not been served with a copy of the complaint, as required under US law, and does not have any further information regarding the lawsuit at this time.”

The 45-page complaint was filed by Sophia Olsson on behalf of "others similarly situated" with the United States District Court, Central District of California, on February 6. 

PLDT chairman Manuel Pangilinan and PLDT president and CEO Alfredo Panlilio, PLDT assistant corporate secretary Abner Tito Alberto, PLDT chief finance officer Anabelle Chua, PLDT chief legal counsel Marilyn Victorio-Aquino, PLDL financial reporting and controllership officer-in-charge Gil Samson Garcia, former PLDT corporate secretary and chief governance officer Ma. Lourdes Rausa-Chan, PLDT former assistant corporate secretary Florentino Mabasa Jr., and former PLDT group controller and chief sustainability officer Cheryl Cabal-Revilla were named defendants in Olsson’s lawsuit.

According to the complaint, Olsson had purchased PLDT securities between January 1, 2019 and December 19, 2022 and was “economically damaged thereby.”

It also said that the defendants issued “materially false and misleading statements” regarding the company’s business, operation, and prospects during the set period.

The complaint likewise stated that the defendants failed to disclose that there were capital spending budget overruns and failed to address weaknesses that allowed the budget overruns.

In December last year, PLDT said it was investigating an estimated P48-billion worth of capital expenditure overrun or unexpected incurred budget costs over the period of four years (2019 to 2022), which triggered a management reorganization within the company.

The telco said that its internal probe into the P48-billion capital expenditure overrun or budget overspend has not uncovered fraud as it cooperates with the inquiries being conducted by capital markets regulators.

PLDT also said that its earnings this year are shielded from the recent discovery of P48-billion in capital expenditure (CapEx) overspending.

“During the class period, defendants, individually and in concert, directly or indirectly, disseminated or approved the false statements specified above, which they knew or deliberately disregarded were misleading in that they contained misrepresentations,”  the complaint said. —VAL/KBK, GMA Integrated News