Cable & Wireless takes stake in BTC

Cable & Wireless takes stake in BTC

Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) will buy a 51% stake in state-owned Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) for $210 million.

CWC’s deal with the Bahamian government, which is expected to close before the end of the first quarter of 2011, ends a long-running bid to part-privatise the mobile operator. As a condition of the contract, CWC has three years of exclusivity in the market before it is opened up to competition. CWC already has a presence across much of the Caribbean region with its LIME brand.

“If this transaction is concluded, it will be positive for both LIME and the Bahamas,” commented Tim Pennington, CFO with CWC. “I know we have experience and expertise which can benefit BTC, not just steering the business successfully through liberalisation, but also in helping it to introduce new technology such as mobile TV when the time is right.”

According to Tig Harvey, an analyst with the TeleGeography consultancy, the Bahamian government’s attempts to sell off BTC over the last decade have been hindered by political uncertainty: “The government’s desire to raise funds by the sale of a 51% stake appears to have galvanised the process this time,” he said. Harvey predicted that BTC customers will, as a result, benefit from better and cheaper services, while at the same time enabling CWC to gain yet another foothold in the Caribbe an, in a protected market.

CWC has also just been licensed to operate in the Dominican Republic. The operator’s new subsea cable, known as East-West, will land in Santo Domingo, enabling it to offer wholesale services to service providers active in the region. The East-West cable will link Jamaica and the Cayman Islands in the west of the Caribbean to the British Virgin Islands in the east.

“We will be delivering a one-stop shop for carriers in the Dominican Republic,” said Martin Fijman, managing director of carrier services for LIME. “East-West will be the only cable landing in the Dominican Republic with the advantage of being the only independent cable in the southern portion of the country, plugging directly into Santo Domingo.”

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