Categorized | National News

Cellular Competition Enters Final Stages

The road to cellular liberalisation has entered its final stages as the licencing of a new company will occur in the coming weeks, Prime Minister Perry Christie revealed during his 2016/2017 Budget Communication in the House of Assembly Wednesday.

 The new company, NewCo., has been formed to hold the cellular licence.

 The Bahamian public will be the majority shareholder in this company while Cable Bahamas Limited (CBL) will hold a minority share.

 Mr. Christie said that another Bahamian company, Holding Co, will also be formed to hold the majority equity ownership interest in NewCo behalf of the Bahamian public.

 “In line with CBL’s Phase 1 commitments, Holding Co will hold 51.75 per cent of the shares in NewCo and CBL will hold the remaining 48.75 per cent,” Mr. Christie said.

 “Although CBL will have management and board control of NewCo, Hoding Co will have certain standard market veto rights in order to protect its investment.”

 The prime minister also revealed that the first board meeting of NewCo is expected to take place in the coming weeks.

 He said the licence will be awarded to NewCo for a 15-year period and the company’s trade name will be disclosed just prior to its launch date later this year.

 “In order to facilitate the timely formation and licencing of NewCo, the government has incorporated Holding Co with itself as the sole and initial shareholder,” the prime minister said.

 “Government’s shareholding in Holding Co, however, will only be temporary in nature and a caretaker board will be appointed until such time as Holding Co’s shares have been divested.”

 Mr. Christie said that under the licences to be awarded by the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA), and from the time that the licences are awarded, NewCo will be required, on a phased basis, to satisfy specific coverage obligations.

 Within three months, it will have to provide coverage to at least 90 per cent of New Providence and 80 per cent on Grand Bahama.

 Seventy-five per cent coverage is expected within six months on Eleuthera, Abaco, Bimini, Andros and Exuma – including Black Point, Little Farmers Cay, Staniel Cay and Stocking Island.

 Within eight months, 85 per cent coverage in Andros and 99 per cent in each of Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Abaco, Bimini and Exuma.

 In a year, Mr. Christie said, 99 per cent coverage is expected in each of Andros, Cat Island, Long Island, San Salvador, Berry Islands, Inagua and Ragged Island.

 Within 18 months, 99 per cent coverage Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, Rum Cay and Mayaguana.

 In two years, 80 per cent in each of the Exuma Cays.

 “The licensing of New Co within the next few weeks will mark yet another significant milestone of this government’s commitment to introduce competition in the cellular mobile market,” the prime minister said.



Written by Jones Bahamas

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