C&WC signs agreement to acquire majority stake in BTC

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cable & Wireless Communications (C&WC) has signed agreements with the Bahamas government to acquire a 51% stake in state telco BTC for US$210mn, according to a C&WC press release.

C&WC said it will acquire a majority stake, as well as management control, of BTC and expects the transaction to close in the beginning of April. The company said BTC will form a key part of LIME, C&WC's operation in the Caribbean.

According to C&WC CEO Tony Rice, the company's immediate focus will be on preparing BTC for competition. This will include improving its networks, introducing new services and moving to a cost base capable of sustaining business in a competitive environment.

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The liberalization process for the mobile sector will not begin until at least three years after BTC's privatization, according to C&WC. In other plans, the purchaser said a workforce restructuring program will take place on a voluntary basis after privatization and will be implemented within the first year.

The sale of the telco has been surrounded by controversy in recent months, with BTC workers union representatives taking strong positions against the privatization, hosting demonstrations and attempting to block the move in the supreme court.

BTC saw net profits of US$48mn and revenues of US$361mn in 2009. The company currently serves 123,000 fixed-line customers, 388,000 mobile customers and 19,000 broadband customers. BTC is the only mobile operator in the Bahamas, and the leading provider of fixed-line and broadband services.