Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 7th 2014 Contents ANTHONY WILSON
Concerns have been expressed that Cable
& Wireless Communication s (CWC) pro-
posed US$3 billion acquisition of regional
cable provider Columbus International
(also know as FLOW) could lead to a
decline in telecommunications competition
across the region and anti-competitive
behaviour in T&T.
The atmosphere was created after CWC
announced in London yesterday that its
board had agreed on terms to purchase 100
per cent of Columbus International Inc, the
fibre-based telecommunications and tech-
nology services provider for US$1.85 billion.
CWC will also assume Columbus' US$1.17
billion in net debt.
CWC said it would finance the US$1.85
billion acquisition cost through the payment
of US$707.5 million in cash and the issue
of 1.55 billion new ordinary CWC shares to
Columbus' three major shareholders --- John
Risely, John Malone and Brendan Paddick
--- worth US$1.14 billion.
If the transaction is approved, the three
main Columbus shareholders will own about
36 per cent of CWC and collectively will
be the telecommunications provider's largest
The proposed transaction will bring
together CWC, which has 5.7 million mobile,
fixed line and Internet customers in Panama,
the Caribbean and Seychelles, with the
700,000 residential of Columbus in the
Caribbean, Central America and the Andean
In T&T, the acquisition will mean CWC,
which owns 49 per cent of majority state-
owned TSTT, acquiring FLOW's cable TV,
Internet and telephone services.
The CWC announcement said the com-
pletion of the transaction was conditional
on it receiving regulatory approval in Bar-
bados, Jamaica and T&T.
Speaking yesterday, Telecommunications
Authority of T&T (TATT) CEO Cris Seecha-
ran, said the local regulator was required to
approve any change of ownership in licensed
Seecharan said from a regional perspective,
the acquisition of FLOW by CWC would
reduce the number of players from three ---
FLOW, Digicel and the CWC-owned LIME
--- to two, Digicel and LIME.
Seecharan said: "The region would be
going from a position of vibrant competition
among three players to the creation of an
effective duopoly, which sometimes leads
to a stagnation in competition that could
impact on the affordability of service.
"In T&T, the issue is more about the
potential for anti-competitive behaviour as
a result of cross-owner that CWC could
own 49 per cent of TSTT and 100 per cent
He said the local regulator has embarked
on an analysis of how the transaction will
impact competition and how the market
will be affected. He said the authority was
expected to conclude that exercise by Feb-
ruary 28, the deadline set by the parties.
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In a statement, CWC's major competitor in the
Caribbean, Digicel, said it was "naturally concerned
about the clear and obvious challenges and potential
issues posed by such a proposed move from a reg-
ulatory and competition perspective."
Questioned on the Digicel statement, CWC's
chief executive, Phil Bentley, said the comments
were very interesting because Digicel had themselves
made a bid to acquire Columbus.
Bentley said: "That's a response of, if you like,
a scorned lover because they didn't buy the assets.
"So I think it's a bit rich of them to complain
about us buying it because they wanted to buy it
themselves. I would be very happy for you to make
that point. It feels like sour grapes to us."
Asked whether CWC outbid Digicel for Columbus,
Bentley said with a laugh: "Well, they didn't get
the business. You can draw your own conclusion
Asked to respond to Bentley's allegation that Dig-
icel had bid for Columbus, the Digicel spokesperson
Antonia Graham said: "We would not comment on
Customers getting choice
Told that the local telecom authority had expressed
some concerns about the transaction, Bentley said
CWC would be writing to the regulators on the
issues of concern to them.
"What I would say is that Digicel has been acquir-
ing companies and rolling out fibre," Bentley said.
"I think we are confident that we will make the
case that this is good for giving choice to customers.
We think it is good for rolling out investment faster.
It's not often that people invest US$3 billion in the
Caribbean and hopefully, people will see the positive
side to that."
Digicel said the proposed transaction raised a
number of issues that would need to be addressed,
including such matters as fairness in spectrum allo-
cations, local loop unbundling and price bundling
The Jamaican-based company said: "A myriad
of other likely issues will only become apparent
once Digicel and other agencies and bodies have
been fully appraised of the details of the proposed
transaction and the likely resultant impact on the
telecoms market in the region."
Friday, November 7, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
GETTING IT RIGHT
CWC mega deal worries TATT
for 06TH NOVEMBER, 2014
The 23-year-old woman, said by police sources
to have been chopped to death on Tuesday, is in
alive and resting comfortably at the Port-of-Spain
Melissa Benny, of Cameron Hill, Maraval, was
chopped on the head and hand but was treated
and is in a stable condition.
Her brother Shannick Ghany, who was also
chopped, was said to have been in a critical
condition but is now reported to have discharged
himself from the hospital on Wednesday.
A suspect surrendered to police yesterday and is
in police custody.
Our apologies for the errors in yesterday's Page
Digicel concerned too
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