FLOW responds to complaints about its merger with CWC
Columbus Communications Barbados says it has not suffered any major backlash as a result of its recent merger with Cable & Wireless.
However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY Managing Director Niall Sheehy acknowledged that there had been numerous complaints about the US$3 billion deal.
”Yes, there are concerns [but] in terms of backlash, not major, other than people calling in and I meet with people and they say, ‘we’re not happy, we were very happy with the fact that Flow had brought something new to the game’.
“What I say to them is, ‘give us three to four months. What we’re looking to do is to bring the best of both worlds together. You have my commitment that you’ll have at least as good a service as you have today’,” he said.
Sheehy has been meeting with customers, 50 of them today, in a bid to allay their fears about what he described as the circulation of misinformation.
“What I’m hearing is, ‘LIME has bought Flow and Flow has been shut down and it’s all going to go back to the way it was two to three years ago’. If that happens, the new joint entity will fail because our competitor is going to take all the customers. We have a bar that’s up here and CWC has been making some major investments and changes themselves in the last couple of years and the idea is if we don’t deliver to that same standard, I think our customers will vote with their feet.”
The managing director is among company representatives who have been holding talks with officials of Government and the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) in recent weeks.
He is confident the deal would get the necessary approval.
“Applications have been submitted to the FTC, which they’re reviewing and have come back and asked for more information and that’s a process.
“The CTU [Caribbean Telecommunications Union] I believe is meeting today in Trinidad to give their view on the acquisition. Once the territories that have to approve it have done it, we would like to make the merger in the next three to four months. Certainly, that’s the next phase,” Sheehy said.
In the meantime, he disclosed that Columbus was proceeding with its own plans, including the construction of its new headquarters at Orange Mall, Warrens.
Construction work on that facility is expected to be completed by February 2015.
However, Sheehy was unable to provide specifics as it relates to possible retrenchment, indicating that some of Columbus’ human resources would be redistributed as a result of the acquisition.
“We’re continuing to take people on. We just took on some staff. Sales people started last week. We’re continuing to construct, we’re continuing to launch new services. Will everybody be doing the exact same job that they’re doing today in four months time? [That’s] unlikely. Will there be some areas where we need to consolidate? For sure! But there’s certainly going to be some significant opportunities as well for people?” he said.
Columbus has an estimated 3,000 employees across the region, 240 of them in Barbados.