Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
The government completed the privatization of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) today with the sale of 51 per cent of the company’s shares to Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) Plc.
The shares were purchased at a cost of $210 million.
“This privatization, a process started 14 years ago, is essential for the development of the Bahamian economy. It is no longer about telecommunications; rather we are now in a world of converged communications,”?said Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, before witnessing the Treasury of The Bahamas sign the Shareholders’ Agreement transferring its majority interest in BTC to CWC.
The latter assumed management control, effective today, with Geoff Houston announced as the new chief executive officer. Houston has worked in the telecom industry for 24 years, 19 of those with CWC. He has served as CEO of CWC’s businesses in the Seychelles, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, and most recently Jamaica.
Kirk Griffin, BTC’s acting president and CEO has agreed to stay on as an advisor.
“I’m sure that this is going to be the start of a great new era for telecommunications within The Bahamas,”?said Gerard Borely, chief financial officer of LIME, CWC’s regional operation.
“Our role is to help ensure that BTC continues to trade successfully in this new era,” said Borely. “We will do that by focusing on the needs of our customers and our communities.”
With technological advancement moving at a lightning pace, and the telecommunications sector requiring huge investment, economies of scale and deep technical expertise, Ingraham said 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 prime minister expressed the government’s commitment to making The Bahamas an international business “centre of choice,” one that was committed to providing locals access to the latest and best technologies available in the communications sector, in addition to opening up the economy for further participation by progressive entrepreneurs.
“The privatization of BTC with the sale to CWC, our new strategic communications partner, provides this platform, and the benefits will be realized by all Bahamians,” he said.
Admitting that it had been “a long and difficult journey” to get to this point, Ingraham said the government never lost sight of its commitment to improve the delivery of the telecommunications to the Bahamian public.
It was a commitment his Free National Movement government made back in 1992. Six years later, the government realized, he said, that in order to deliver that improved service privatization of BTC and liberalization of the telecommunications sector “would be absolutely essential.”
“For a time we dallied with the idea of a minority private sector partner, reality dictated otherwise,” said Ingraham.
The Prime Minister said he is satisfied that having privatized BTC the government has chosen a partner?“who will take good care of our national telecommunications company and advance us to higher heights.” He asked the company’s employees to give the new majority owner their full cooperation and support.
CWC is a global, full-service communications business that operates in 38 countries through four regional units–the Caribbean, Panama, Macau and Monaco–and has revenue totaling around $2.5 billion.