Bahamian PM Perry Christie has confirmed that the government will not be selling any of its shares in incumbent operator Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), drawing a line under speculation that the ruling Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) may revert to plans proposed by the previous administration, The Freeport News reports. The Bahamian state currently holds a 49% stake in BTC, having sold the remaining 51% to Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) in April 2011 for USD210 million. The ruling party at the time, the Free National Movement (FNM), had planned to offer a further 9% to the public within the following year, but the sale was abandoned when elections in May 2012 saw the FNM ousted from power.
Since winning the 2012 election Christie’s PLP has sought to renationalise the telco and has initiated talks with CWC on the matter. Precise details on a potential deal were not forthcoming, though negotiations were described in November as ‘fruitful’. Commenting on the decision not to sell some of the state’s stake in the telco, Christie said: ‘We knew that the FNM government had decided to sell shares … in BTC to be able to cover certain shortfalls. We [were] elected as a matter of policy because we had a different view as to how the BTC shares should be dealt with, not to sell those shares.’ Leader of the opposition, Hubert Minnis, has called for the PLP to release the 9% stake to the public claiming that it is the only way for the public to ‘truly own a piece of the company.’ Minnis continued to fight Christie’s buyback plans, claiming that the government has received greater revenues from BTC with its 49% holding than it had with 100% ownership.