July 17, 2017 / 9:46 AM / 3 years ago

San Miguel president Ang to buy Philippine Daily Inquirer group

A newspaper of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which was recently acquired by food and beverage conglomerate San Miguel Corp., is displayed at a news stand in metro Manila, Philippines July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao

MANILA (Reuters) - San Miguel Corp’s (SMC.PS) billionaire president on Monday said he will buy a majority stake in the Inquirer Group of Companies, one of the Philippines’ biggest media firms and publisher of the country’s most-read broadsheet, the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Ramon Ang, the Philippines’ 16th richest man according to Forbes Magazine, said he will start due diligence to buy the Prieto family’s stake in the group, which also owns tabloid newspapers and a radio station.

“I am looking forward to being part of this venerable institution,” Ang said in a statement. “The publication (of the Inquirer) will continue to uphold the highest journalistic standards and make a difference in the society it serves.”

The Inquirer Group of Companies confirmed the deal in a separate statement.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer is among the country’s top three newspapers by circulation. Its coverage of the government’s war on drugs, which has resulted in thousands of deaths, has brought the newspaper repeated complaints from President Rodrigo Duterte over perceived bias.

Duterte has on numerous occasions also publicly accused the newspaper’s owners of tax evasion. The newspaper has rejected accusations of bias. Neither the newspaper nor its owners have responded to Duterte’s comments on tax.

Jay Bautista, managing director of consultancy Kantar Media Philippines, said buying the Inquirer group could lead to lower advertising and marketing costs for San Miguel.

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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