Cable &Wireless Communications (CWC) and the Bahamian government have reached an agreement for the establishment of the Bahamas Telecommunication Company (BTC) Foundation, confirming earlier reports that the UK-based group had accepted a deal to relinquish its majority stake in wireless monopoly provider BTC. Under the terms of the agreement, CWC will hand 5,093,200 shares in BTC (representing just under a 2% stake) to the new foundation, a charitable trust that will invest in Bahamian interests. CWC noted in a press release that the 2% stake is not entitled to any voting rights, leaving CWC with majority voting rights and remaining the largest overall shareholder, allowing CWC to consolidate BTC’s financial results. Management and board control will also be retained by CWC. Further financial details of the deal were not released. As previously noted by CommsUpdate, under the terms of the 2011 privatisation deal which saw CWC take a 51% stake in BTC, the government was required to pay a USD40 million penalty if it arbitrarily alters the agreement within three years. It is unclear as yet whether the state will be called upon to make this payment.
Local news portal Tribune 242 writes that BTC has moved to allay concerns that the establishment of the BTC Foundation will result in the telco slashing its social and public contributions. BTC CEO Geoff Houston explained: ‘There is no relationship between the work that the new BTC Foundation will undertake and that of the initiatives that BTC will continue to support and develop. However, by virtue of the mandate agreed for the Foundation, we can say confidently that the combined efforts of the BTC as a company and the new BTC Foundation will mean that more attention and resources are made available to worthy community and civic initiatives.’