By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Government and Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) are now aiming to conclude their ‘2 per cent’ deal over the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) on July 21, Tribune Business has been told.
Franklyn Wilson, head of the Government-appointed BTC negotiating committee, said the planned July 3 signing had been pushed back to ensure Prime Minister Perry Christie’s presence for the occasion.
The previous signing date had conflicted, Mr Wilson said, with the Prime Minister’s attendance at the CARICOM Heads of Government summit in Antigua & Barbuda.
He also declined to comment on reports reaching Tribune Business that CWC and its new chief executive, Phil Bentley, were minded to abandon the Foundation approach and instead hand the 2 per cent BTC stake back to government directly.
“I don’t want to go that far at this point,” Mr Wilson told Tribune Business. “It’s a very good outcome, and everyone is happy.”
It would seem inconceivable that CWC would hand the 2 per cent stake, and majority control, back to the Government directly. For this would make the Government the largest shareholder with 51 per cent, and prevent CWC - for whom BTC is its second largest market at 24 per cent - from consolidating the operation in its accounts.
The compromise, ‘face saving’ deal that allowed both sides’ to claim victory, saw CWC deposit 5,093,200 of its shares in BTC into a foundation where they will be held in trust for the Bahamian people.
These shares, which will be non-voting amount to just under a 2 per cent stake in BTC, meaning that CWC remains the largest shareholder with Board and management control.
Both sides had hoped to conclude the deal by end-March 2014 to coincide with CWC’s year-end, and the protracted closure indicates that the attorneys are taking extra care to ensure the language, and intent, of the agreements matches their respective clients’ needs.