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C&W completes takeover of Bahamas telecoms
Two months after signing agreements to acquire a 51 per cent stake in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) for US$210 million, Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) has completed the purchase and taken over management control of the company. The Government had been paid the purchase price in full, as well as in kind and cash completion dividends from BTC amounting to US$14.3 million. The deal was finalised at a signing ceremony yesterday, where Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said the process had been a very long and at times difficult journey. However, he said, “we never lost sight of our commitment to improve the delivery of telecommunications services to the Bahamian public; a commitment first made by my Government in 1992”.
“I am satisfied that having privatised BTC, we have chosen a partner, CWC, who will take good care of our national telecommunications company and advance it to higher heights,” the Prime Minister added, as he encouraged the employees of BTC to give the new majority owner their full cooperation and support. A government statement added that, as of yesterday, the clock has finally started ticking for the liberalisation of cellular services. “The process for liberalisation will commence three years from (yesterday),” it said.
“This privatisation, a process started 14 years ago, is essential for the advancement of the Bahamian economy. It is no longer about telecommunications; rather we are now in a world of converged communications. Technology advancement is moving at a lightning fast pace, requiring huge investments, economies of scale and deep technical expertise. The Bahamian people deserve and indeed, rightly demand, more minutes for less money, more products with better quality, excellent service and more business and profit opportunities for themselves.”
The statement said that the Government committed to making the country an international business centre of choice, giving Bahamians access to the latest and best technologies available in communications and opening the economy for the further participation of progressive, innovative Bahamian entrepreneurs, and the privatisation of BTC provides the platform for that.
CWC’s Chief Executive, Tony Rice, said the company was pleased to finally complete the transaction. “We welcome BTC to the Cable & Wireless Communications group. We will now engage with all stakeholders in BTC as we move to the next phase of strengthening the business by improving its networks, introducing new services and moving it to a competitive cost base,” he said. “Our intention is to deliver a world class telecom capability, improving the product, service and value proposition for the people and businesses of The Bahamas.”
Geoff Houston has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of BTC. He has worked for CWC for 19 years and has previously been CEO of the company’s Jamaica, Seychelles and Channel Islands and Isle of Man operations. CWC is a global full-service communications business which operates communications businesses in thirty-eight countries through four regional units – the Caribbean, Panama, Macau and Monaco & Islands – and has close to US$2.5 billion revenues. BTC is the exclusive mobile operator in The Bahamas, as well as a leading provider of fixed line and broadband services. (Caribbean360.com)
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