(Bloomberg) -- PLDT Inc has slashed by a third a budget overrun that once pummeled its shares and prompted a regulatory probe, and said its own investigation found no evidence of fraud.

The Philippines’ top phone company by market value signed an agreement with major vendors that accounted for 80% of its outstanding commitment as of end-2022, reducing its overrun to 33 billion pesos ($608 million) from the previously announced 48 billion pesos in December, PLDT said in a statement.

“We’ve been in the trenches trying to solve this issue. It’s now incumbent upon management and the board to get back on the saddle and move on and move forward,” Chairman Manuel Pangilinan said in a briefing on Thursday. He said he’s relieved the company’s review found no wrongdoing by any employee after its own probe which is “substantially complete.”

PLDT, whose shareholders include Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. and First Pacific Co., reported its 2022 net income fell 60% to 10.5 billion pesos, largely due to accelerated depreciation. Profit would have been “north of 50 billion pesos” without the depreciation cost which is part of PLDT’s “overall cleanup,” Pangilinan said.

Its telco core income, which excludes asset sales, rose 10% to 33.1 billion pesos and Pangilinan said he expects this year’s number to be higher than 2022. “We still have one of the highest EBITDA margins in the region — a good indicator of how well the core telco business is performing,” PLDT President and CEO Alfredo Panlilio said.

The nearly 100-year-old company is under investigation by the bourse and securities regulator about the overrun and the trading activity in the shares before PLDT announced it on Dec. 16. Following the disclosure, PLDT started talks with suppliers and vendors to cancel projects and seek discounts.

PLDT has introduced reforms to prevent a repeat of the overrun including improvements in budgeting and approval processes, project management system, monitoring capital spending and vendor process management, officials said. It has responded to all requests of the stock exchange and the Securities and Exchange Commission, corporate secretary Marilyn Victorio-Aquino said. 

PLDT shares closed 1.6% lower, against the Philippine benchmark stock index’s 0.2% decline.

--With assistance from Cecilia Yap and Ditas Lopez.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.