Regional watchdog worried over telecom takeover

| 25/11/2014 | 1 Comment

(CNS Business): The regulatory authority for the Eastern Caribbean region has said that a preliminary review of the takeover of Columbus International by Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) raises competition concerns. The Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) said the deal could have a potentially negative impact on competition with a reduction in the choice of services for consumers, and warned that both businesses could be breaching the conditions of their licences.

ECTEL said that it will monitor the situation and seek further information on the acquisition. CWC, however, said it welcomed ECTEL’s commitment to fully understand the impact of this transaction.

The telecommunications firm said any large deal raises concerns but it was committed to ensuring customer choice and competition are promoted by the transaction. It added that senior management have been meeting with governments and regulators in the countries affected and it would also meet with ECTEL this week.

“The facts are that this transaction will bolster competition against our larger competitor,” CWC stated, referring to Digicel, which had also bid for the same Columbus assets. “It will also increase customer choice and boost long term investment and employment across the Caribbean. We firmly believe that this transaction will be received positively by our customers and governments alike.”

Meanwhile, Digicel said that CWC and Columbus had embarked on a strategy of “seeking to railroad through this acquisition by seeking to ‘put a gun to the heads’ of regulators right across the Caribbean region”.

Digicel Group CEO, Colm Delves, said the firm welcomed ECTEL’s intervention and its expression of support for a rigorous regulatory examination of the proposed acquisition.

“Digicel was taken aback by the dismissive position of CWC/Columbus that the governments of the ECTEL member states and the established regulatory authorities in those countries were essentially powerless and had no right to oversee the proposed merger,” Delves stated. “The fact that CWC and Columbus are seeking to essentially put a gun to the heads of the Caribbean regulatory authorities and governments to approve their transaction on their terms and according to their own self-declared timetables is also a cause for alarm.”

As the two telecom giants continue to battle for the lion’s share of the Caribbean and Latin American communications market, the Irish media described the latest situation as the “corporate equivalent of sticking their tongues out at each other”.

Related article on CNS Business: C&W to buy major regional telecoms firm

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Category: ICT, Technology

Comments (1)

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  1. MF Branch says:

    Throughout every civilized society when a monopoly happens with a utility, the people pay the price! Remember the good ole days when a LD call cost so much money that you would not make a call unless it was an emergency? That was due to a monopoly!

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