Roadblock Impedes BTC Sale

Wednesday 17th, November 2010 / 09:26 Published by

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said that there is a “substantial roadblock” in the negotiations between the privatization committee of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and Cable & Wireless (C&W) over staff redundancy, which could lead to the termination of 30 percent of BTC’s employees.

Ingraham said he would not agree to the terminations as a part of the sale of 51 percent of BTC and reiterated that the government aimed to provide voluntary disengagement packages. The BTC sale is worth just over $400 million.

“Cable and Wireless does want to fire one-third of the staff at BTC and the government isn’t prepared to do that – if they are able to come to terms with that then we will go ahead with the deal, if not, then no deal. But we are not prepared to fire 30 per cent of the staff at BTC,” said Ingraham.

Negotiations on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the government and the C&W were expected to reach completion by mid-November but the roadblock on the staff redundancy could potentially throw the timeline off.

The government has not disclosed the price C&W would pay for the majority stake in BTC if the negotiations are successful. However, Ingraham said the price being offered is in line with the valuation the government has received for company.

The previous PLP administration came close to a $260 million sale of 49 percent of BTC to Bluewater Ventures Limited.

Ingrahama said, “They were talking about selling Batelco to foreigners. Three days before elections in 2007, the PLP candidates sat down and agreed to sell Batelco – to sell it to a company, called Bluewater, that had no track record in telecommunications – a hedge fund, could have been owned by anybody.”

The House of Assembly will have to approve the sale of BTC. Ingraham has pledged transparency and full disclosure regarding the sale process.

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