THE Telecommunications Authority of TT (TATT) is hoping the divestment of Cable and Wireless Corporation’s (CWC) 49 per cent shareholding in state-owned Telecommunications Services of TT (TSTT) will be settled soon. Acting TATT CEO Cynthia Reddock-Downes expressed this optimism to Newsday after a function at the authority’s office in Barataria. On March 26, 2015, TATT approved a $3 billion merger between CWC and Columbus Communications, parent company of cable TV provider Flow. Previously on March 12, TATT had “denied” permission for any such merger unless CWC could vow to divest itself of its 49 per cent stake in TSTT, so as to avoid anti-competitiveness in the sector. CWC would then be required to provide an adequate plan for its intended development of Flow/Columbus.
“We are aware that it has taken much longer than expected.When we started off we gave CWC one year and then 18 months in which to complete the project,” Reddock-Downes said. TATT wants the entires exercise to be completed as soon as possible. Reddock explained this is important so that “ we can remove any anti-competitive possibilities or anti-competitive areas in their still being involved in TSTT extent.”
Initiatives have been put in place to ensure that CWC is not involved in the daily operations of TSTT, she added. The authority is monitoring the process but its resolution is largely “up to the players involved”.
Reddock-Downes said this includes CWC, the Liberty Group which “has taken responsibility for them” and the majority shareholders, to ensure the process goes through smoothly. TSTT’s 51 per cent majority shares are held by Government through the National Enterprises Limited.
She also said the resolution involves “ getting people to invest in the 49 per cent that’s available to them. Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte said, “The requirement to divest the shares in TSTT is one that has been placed on CWC by the regulator.” He recalled that TATT directed CWC to divest its shares in 2015. While this matter is being resolved, Le Hunte was confident there would be no adverse effects on TSTT’s operations. “The existing board of directors of TSTT under the chairmanship of Robert Mayers continue to do what is required to ensure that the company remains profitable and fulfill its mandate to the people of TT.”
In an interview on Monday, Le Hunte said TSTT has been talking with CWC representatives. “ I’m sure the matter is being handled by the Minister of Finance who is the corporation sole.”
He indicated that CWC placed their 49 per cent shareholding in a trust. “That needs to be dealt with. I think they now need to determine the conversations about how they are going to deal with that 49 per cent, in light of their own acquisition of the FLOW network