CWC expects to finalise Flow aquisition next month

CWC expects to finalise Flow aquisition next month

BY STEVEN JACKSON Business reporter

Friday, February 13, 2015

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Regional telecom Cable & Wireless Plc (CWC) expects to finalise the acquisition of regional broadband operator Columbus Communications by next month.

It comes as CWC also indicated strong subscriber growth for the region led by Jamaica.

"We continue to work with Governments and regulators to gain the required approvals for completion of the Columbus acquisition and are on track to close before our fiscal year end," stated chief executive Phil Bentley in CWC's December third-quarter financial update released this week.

Last November CWC announced plans to purchase 100 per cent equity of Columbus International Inc for US$1.85 billion. Since the announcement, CWC raised gross proceeds of US$180 million from the placing of new shares and US$690 million from new loans to finance the acquisition.

"We have also obtained a number of regulatory consents, including the necessary approvals for the acquisition in Jamaica. Completion of the acquisition remains subject to the satisfaction or waiver of certain other conditions, as set out in the circular to CWC shareholders," added Bentley in the update about the November-dated circular which detailed the acquisition.

In January the Government of Jamaica approved the acquisition for the island. The merger remains under consideration in other countries over competition concerns.

Last week, LIME Jamaica chairman Chris Dehring likened the speed of the local approval to that of the island's world-beating athletes, while CWC chairman Sir Richard Lapthorne reasoned that Jamaica demonstrated why it tops the Caribbean in the Ease of Doing Business index.

Third-quarter results indicated that LIME Jamaica's subscriber base increased by double-digit levels year-on-year as it benefited from earlier regulations which lowered calling rates.

"LIME growth was driven by continued subscriber additions in Jamaica of 18 per cent where investment in our 4G mobile network led to constant currency revenue growth of 27 per cent," stated Bentley adding that in the third quarter CWC continued to invest in its infrastructure upgrade project dubbed Project Marlin.

"Fibre investments have focused on our Caribbean markets and are key to generating growth in the broadband and TV segments," stated Bentley in the update which was silent on profit for the group or territories.

CWC operates in 16 countries throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. With four leading brands: Mas Movil (Cable and Wireless Panama), LIME (the Caribbean excluding The Bahamas), BTC (The Bahamas) and Cable and Wireless Seychelles, CWC offers mobile, broadband, TV, domestic and international fixed-line services and serves to over 5.5 million customers, the company stated.

CWC also provides premium data centre hosting, domestic and international managed data network services and customised IT Service Solutions to businesses and governments through their Cable & Wireless Business Solutions division.

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