Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 26th 2016 Contents Monday, September 26, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
COMMUNICATING THE TRUTH
THE CWU CALLS FOR TRANSPARENCY IN THE SALE OF CABLE AND
WIRELESS 49% SHAREHOLDING IN TSTT
The Communication Workers' Union, (CWU), would like to publicly
express its grave concern with respect to the sale of the 49%
Shareholding that Foreign Multinational, Cable and Wireless has in the
Telecommunication Services of Trinidad and Tobago Limited, TSTT, which
was mandated by the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and
Tobago, TATT in 2015. Such transaction was mandated to be completed in
a maximum of eighteen (18) months effective March 26, 2015.
The Union would like to bring some clarity to this situation so that the
citizens can be more educated and informed.
TSTT Is a State Owned Entity wherein the Government has a 51%
Shareholding Interest with a 49% Minority Shareholding held by
Cable and Wireless. The Government's 51% Shareholding is vested in the
National Enterprise Limited, (NEL), an Investment Holding Company Set
up in 1999.
Cable and Wireless has 49% shareholding in the local provider, the
Telecommunication Services of Trinidad and Tobago, TSTT. This
shareholders arrangement was conceptualized in 1991 which saw the
merging of the operations of the then Telephone Company, TELCO,
which provided internal communication services and the operations of the
provider of external communication services, TEXTEL. This Shareholders
Agreement gave Cable and Wireless the opportunity to have four (4)
members on a nine (9) member Board of Directors with the authority to
veto certain Capital Expenditure Projects. They were also directly involved
in the creation and implementation of Policy decisions for TSTT and are
therefore privy to critical Company Strategies and Corporate Business
In November 2014, Cable and Wireless Communications announced
that they were in the process of acquiring Columbus International, the
parent Company of Columbus Communications Trinidad Limited, trading
as "FLOW". In the process, Columbus Networks International and
Columbus Communications Trinidad Limited (FLOW), consistent with the
provisions of Section 22 of the Telecommunications Act Chapter 47:31,
applied to the TATT for a Change of Control to allow for the transfer of the
concession that Columbus was granted when they started to operate in
Trinidad and Tobago as FLOW.
The Authority on February 9, 2015, initially and rightfully so, rejected this
application and stated: "Given the existing shareholding of 49% in TSTT
by Cable and Wireless (West Indies) Limited (CWWI), a subsidiary
company of CWC Plc, the Authority found that substantial lessening of
competition or adverse effects may reasonably be expected to result
from the proposed acquisition of Columbus by CWC and as such,
pursuant to Section 22(1) © of the Telecommunications Act, the
application of change of control was not approved."
Lo and behold, on March 25, 2015, following its 116th Board Meeting,
TATT, in a very curious about turn subsequent to its original decision,
stated that they had changed their minds and approved the request for
the Change of Control by Columbus. TATT indicated that some of the
conditionalities for the approval were that:
• CWC shall adhere to the terms of the letter Agreement dated 18th
March 2015 between NEL and CWC/CWWI, in good faith
• CWC/CWWI shall ensure the complete divestment of the 49%
shareholding in TSTT within the timeframe stipulated by the
Authority, namely within one (1) year of the date of communication
of this reconsidered decision, or such extended date as may be
approved by the Authority in writing, such extension to not exceed a
maximum of six (6) months.
• The Authority shall take such steps as are available to it under
law in the event of any breach of these conditions by the Applicants
or CWC, their agents or representatives.
• This Approval shall take effect from the date of successful closing of
the proposed acquisition.
• The Applicants and CWC shall keep the Authority informed of the
progress of the proposed acquisition. Notwithstanding this Resolution,
the Authority reserves the right to review its decision should the
closure of the proposed acquisition not be completed within one (1)
year of the date of this Resolution."
It is almost eighteen (18) months since this announcement was made by
the TATT and neither the CWU or the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago have
been informed of what was contained in the letter Agreement dated 18th
March 2015 between NEL and CWC/CWWI nor have they heard any word
from TATT, NEL or the Government about the status of this transaction.
Despite letters sent to the TATT in 2015 and 2016; to NEL in 2015 and
to the current Prime Minister in April 2016 and August 2016, requesting
information about this transaction, the CWU as the Recognized Majority
Union for the Senior and Junior Staff Employees at TSTT, has not even
relative to our legitimate request for transparency in this process.
that some un-patriotic decision has already been made or is about to
be made relative to the 49% shareholding and that we may wake up
tomorrow and hear that some Foreign Multi-National has been given this
49% stake in TSTT on a platter, with some proviso that in the near future,
they would acquire Majority Shareholding in this Company, thus selling out
our Telecommunications Sector to Foreigners. This is a distinct possibility
in the face of the Governments quest for funds to bridge its Revenue Gap.
The CWU would like to state that while we have no objection to foreign
investment in principle, we are totally against the whole scale transfer
of this Strategically Critical Telecommunications Sector into Foreign
Security, our Health Care System, our Economic Transformation, our
Educational Development, our Social Development and our Cultural
Orientation. It is for these reasons that we commit to struggle to ensure
that TSTT does not end up owned and controlled by Foreign Interests.
In addition, we recommit to ensure that the Government maintains its 51%
Shareholding in TSTT and that consideration should be given to Local
Institutional Investors inclusive of Credit Unions, Pension Funds, Unit
Trust and NIB to own a stake in TSTT through the 49% Shareholding that
Cable and Wireless has to dispose of.
and the Government to break their veil of secrecy over this 49%
transaction and ensure that the patrimony of Trinidad and Tobago is
protected and preserved.
For this we "Dare to Struggle".
Original signed by
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