by Shawn Cumberbatch
Regarded by some as a long-standing cash cow in the Cable & Wireless empire, Barbados is to be the focal point of a renewed Caribbean focus by the telecommunications company.
Management of LIME Barbados and the heads of other C&W operations in this part of the world, Barbados TODAY understands, will now have to report directly to Tony Rice, the CEO of parent company C&W Communication’s, with the imminent departure of LIME Caribbean CEO, David Shaw, from the business.
But in addition to this “leadership transition” and C&W’s recent decision to sell its Monaco & Islands and Macau businesses, the company has announced that while market conditions here and in the Eastern Caribbean “remain difficult” it was pumping millions of dollars into Barbados to capitalise on opportunities in the “Pan American region”.
Faced with competition from the likes of Karib Cable and others, LIME’s parent company said in a new interim management statement:
“We have accelerated some investments designed to reduce costs and improve services for customers. This includes commencement of a major deployment of fibre in Barbados and Cayman to upgrade the fixed line infrastructure enabling provision of high speed Internet and TV services.”
“We have also revitalised our retail operations in Barbados and taken steps to transform engineering operations in other Caribbean islands. Our decision to accelerate customer focused efficiency investments in the Caribbean (excluding Bahamas) will increase our exceptional restructuring costs by around US$20 million to a total of US$55 million.
“These and other initiatives will improve the efficiency and flexibility of the business and drive cost savings in future years, which is critical as market conditions in the rest of the Caribbean remain difficult, particularly in the Eastern Caribbean and Barbados,” it added.
C&W/LIME Barbados was recently involved in a major dispute with the Barbados Workers’ Union, which sparked a national strike threat and the intervention of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart. Now, based on the decision to have the C&W big boss take charge of the region, it appears the company’s hierarchy is unhappy with how it’s business in Barbados and the region is being run, and the financial results being earned.
Shaw, who has headed LIME Caribbean for the last four years, will remain with the company for the next six months “to facilitate a smooth hand-over of responsibilities” to Rice.
“Given the importance and challenges of the Caribbean market to CWC, I am taking direct leadership of the LIME business for a period of time to understand better and pursue the opportunities for investment which will improve the services we provide to customers as well as our cost efficiency and competitiveness,” Rice said.
One of the focal points of the LIME effort in Barbados will be to capture a large share of the local cable television market with its LIME TV. Up to late last year figures showed the company had about 1,300 “new subscribers” to LIME TV following its launch here.