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FTC waiting for formal notification

The regulator of utility companies in Barbados is yet to officially hear from Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) on its proposed acquisition of Columbus International Inc., but says it is keeping a close eye on the developments.

Director of fair competition at the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) Antonio Thompson told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that the organization had not yet received formal notification of the proposed merger.

“We know just as much as the media would have written this morning,” he said.

“Under our law the entities in Barbados are required, if they reach a threshold of 40 per cent in any of the markets in which it operate, to notify the commission if they would like to merge. The commission then would have to undertake an investigation to determine if we would either approve the merger or not approve the merger, or approve it with conditions.”

Thompson said he could not speak to what a takeover would mean for competition in the sector at this time.

When informed by Barbados TODAY that the FTC had not received any notification, CWC’s Chief Executive Officer Phil Bentley said he was “sure there would be a letter in their inbox by tomorrow”.

“We have written to all the regulators and relevant government agencies explaining the benefits of this transaction . . . A huge number of letters went out to every territory for every regulator. I can assure you we would want to do it the appropriate way with the regulator,” he said via telephone from his London office.

“We [a CWC team] have actually sat down with a number of ministers there and we have given them a heads up on this transaction earlier in the week. We had a number of senior people meeting with the Bajan people and, of course, we want to make sure this is scrutinized and seen to be in the interest of our customers.

“We have to sit down with everybody and make our case and listen to the arguments, but I am very much hopeful that the regulators and government agencies will see the merits of what we are doing. It is in the interest of jobs, customers and investment,” Bentley added.

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