NASSAU, Bahamas — The Treasurer of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas signed the Shareholders Agreement to allow the transfer of 51 per cent of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) to Cable and Wireless Communications Plc (CWC), Wednesday, April 6, 2011.
Before the signing at the Cabinet Office, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert A Ingraham said, “This has been a very long journey and at times a difficult journey.
“We never lost sight of our commitment to improve the delivery of telecommunications services to the Bahamian public; a commitment first made by my government in 1992,” Prime Minister Ingraham said.
“By 1998, we had accepted that in order to deliver that improved service, the privatisation of BTC and liberalisation of the sector would be necessary.”
He also noted that the government “dallied” with the idea of a minority private sector partner, but reality dictated otherwise. Prime Minister Ingraham said the government has received the purchase price of $210 million from CWC paid in full, as well as in kind and cash completion dividends from BTC amounting to $14.3 million.
He said a revised Sector Policy has been established and one of the critical effects of the revised Policy is that of April 6, 2011, the clock has started ticking for the liberalisation of cellular services.
Prime Minister Ingraham said, “The process for liberalisation will commence three years from today.” He said technology advancement is moving at a lightning fast pace, requiring huge investments, economies of scale and deep technical expertise.
“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,” he said.
“The government is committed to making this country an international business centre of choice, committed to giving Bahamians access to the latest and best technologies available in communications and committed to opening this economy for the further participation of progressive, innovative Bahamian entrepreneurs.”
Prime Minister Ingraham explained that the privatisation of BTC with the sale to CWC, the government’s new strategic communications partner, provides this platform, and the benefits will be realised by all Bahamians.
He announced the new board made up of the following individuals: Maria Ferere, a partner of FT Consultants Ltd., Nassau Bahamas, Deidre Prescott, a current BTC Director and employee of BTC, Mark Holowesko, a principal of Holowesko Capital Partners, Nassau, Bahamas Nick Cooper, Corporate Services Director, CWC David Shaw, CEO, LIME (Caribbean Communications Company) Gerard Borely, CEO, LIME Geoff Houston, who has been appointed CEO of BTC The Prime Minister expressed appreciation to all members of the Privatisation Committee headed by T. Baswell Donaldson, a former head of the Central Bank.
The Committee received personal advice from the accounting and auditing firm KPMG, Citibank NA, and the legal firm of Charles Russell LLP, long time legal advisors to The Bahamas Government based in London.
By Llonella Gilbert
Bahamas Information Services