Seychelles News Agency (SNA) reports that the government is putting conditions on the acquisition of quadruple-play operator Cable & Wireless (C&W) Seychelles by Liberty Global to protect local customers. The USD7.4 billion sale of the entire Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) group – largely based in the Caribbean and Americas regions – to US-backed, UK-headquartered Liberty Global was completed last month, sparking worries that operations in Seychelles – a 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean – would be of low strategic importance. Jean-Paul Adam, Minister of Finance, Trade & Blue Economy, was quoted as saying: ‘The government feels that local customers should be protected, and that is why we have set out these conditions, although the acquisition is a fait accompli.’ Specifically, the Seychelles government is asking Liberty Global to maintain investment levels in infrastructure at C&W Seychelles, with Mr Adam stressing the commercial and national strategic importance of such investment, to ensure consumers are provided with affordable and accessible telecommunications and internet options. The minister added that because Seychelles is a small market with few telecoms companies, it was important that the acquisition does not ‘destabilise the market’.
The government has also asked Liberty Global to settle appropriate compensations and benefits to all C&W Seychelles staff members in accordance with local law. ‘The company is liaising with the ministry responsible for employment for the restructuring of the company, and I am aware that there will be redundancies, but we are not certain about how many people will be affected,’ said Adam.
Furthermore, the government has requested that Liberty Global make 30% of C&W Seychelles available for local investors through the local stock exchange. Adam said this would allow continued local participation in a strategic sector and ensure that profits are not solely repatriated overseas. He told SNA: ‘The government expects Liberty Global to respect our laws, but we will await their response for the other conditions. But so far no objections have been made.’ A deadline of 15 June has been set for the company to respond.
In other C&W Seychelles news, SNA reported that on Friday the telco launched an expanded video on demand (VoD) service under the ‘Sinemax’ banner. The ‘Sinemax Store’ pay-for-rental movie service and ‘Sinemax Play’ TV/film content library (inclusive in IPTV subscriptions) are available to C&W subscribers who take one of its premium IPTV packages. The operator launched the first IPTV service in the Seychelles nearly a year ago, and currently claims over 6,000 IPTV subscribers, whilst predicting that the numbers will be boosted in the coming months via the launch of Sinemax, according to SNA.