Yesterday the Government of The Bahamas and Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) signed a share purchase agreement and shareholders agreement governing the terms of CWC’s acquisition of 51 percent of the shares of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) for a consideration of $210 million plus $7 million stamp tax. Later in the day, in the House of Assembly, the Prime Minister tabled the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining the commitments between the two parties. The transaction is subject to parliamentary and regulatory approvals, which are expected to be concluded by April 4. CWC would then take responsibility for the management and operation of BTC under terms defined in the shareholders agreement.
The Prime Minister foreshadowed the Privatisation Bill, and Amendments to both the Communications Act and Utilities Regulation Act.
Thanked were the Advisory and Privatisation Committees for their hard work in bringing the deal to fruition, with Prime Minister Ingraham noting, "We are satisfied that we have found the right partner for The Bahamas; that telecommunications and communications generally will be improved, that cost will be lowered, and that we will be on the cutting edge of technology.”
The Government has said the move to privatise the telecommunications company also will mean that BTC will be designated as a center of excellence in the Caribbean; it will have a larger role in regional communications following the purchase of a majority shareholding by Cable and Wireless Communications. “CWC plans for BTC to be one of three hubs in the region alongside Barbados and Jamaica, as well as a center of excellence in areas where BTC can provide services to other parts of the LIME group,” Prime Minister Ingraham said. “These include a high value consumer call center, and certain network and technical areas where BTC has some particular strength.”
The Prime Minister concluded, "We are committed to making this country an international business center of choice, committed to giving Bahamians access to the latest and best technologies available in telecommunications and committed to opening this economy for the further participation of progressive, innovative Bahamian entrepreneurs.”
Commenting on the acquisition, Tony Rice, CWC’s Chief Executive, said “We are pleased to have BTC join the Cable & Wireless Communications group. It is a business with strong prospects, well positioned in one of the Caribbean region’s largest economies. It will form a key part of our Caribbean business, benefitting from our regional platform and scale, while maintaining its Bahamian character. Our immediate focus will be on preparing the business for competition. We intend to improve its networks, introduce new services and move it to a cost base able to sustain the business in a competitive environment. In partnering with the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas we believe that we can deliver a world-class telecoms capability to the people and businesses of The Bahamas.”
The shares in BTC will be acquired by CWC Bahamas Holdings Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CWC.