A ‘face-saving deal’ has been agreed between the government and Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) on the ownership of Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), unnamed government and BTC sources told Tribune 242. The agreement, which is yet to be signed or made public, will see the creation of an independent new entity, the BTC Foundation. CWC will transfer a 2% stake in BTC to the new trust, leaving the state and the UK-based group with a 49% direct stake each, although board and management control will be retained by CWC. According to the paper, the agreement will allow prime minister Perry Christie to claim that he has met his election promise of returning majority control of BTC to the government, whilst CWC will achieve its goal of keeping board and management control of the telco. The BTC Foundation is expected to be funded by dividends from the telco and will make donations to social and community projects as well as to the Bahamian telecommunications and technology industries.
However, the government may be required to pay a USD40 million penalty to secure the deal. Under the terms of the original privatisation deal in 2011, the government agreed to stump up USD40 million if it arbitrarily altered the agreement within the first three years. CWC confirmed that it has come to an agreement with the government, adding that the details will be disclosed at a press conference at 5pm Bahamian time today (23 January 2014).