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LIME no more

Over a dozen people have expressed an interest in buying over the divested assets LIME and FLOW.

And as the two companies prepared to formally re-launch their Barbados operations this evening under the FLOW brand, Chief Executive Officer of the parent company Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), Phil Bentley, today expressed satisfaction over the progress of the transition process.

CEO of CWC Phil Bentley.

CEO of CWC Phil Bentley.

Back in March, the FTC approved the merger, pursuant to Section 20 (5) of the Fair Competition Act CAP 326C, which is subject to a number of conditions, including divestment of one set of the fibre cables in the zones where the LIME and FLOW networks overlapped.

The merged entity was instructed to divest these assets into a holding company within 45 days of the FTC’s decision, or 30 days after closing the transaction, whichever was later.

The FTC would retain the power to appoint a trustee(s) of the holding company, who would be responsible for monitoring the ongoing management of the divested assets.

Bentley said he met with officials from the FTC yesterday to give “a progress review”, adding that, “they seemed to be pleased with the progress we are making”.

He made the disclosure in a media conference today, following an in-house launch of FLOW, the company’s new consumer-facing brand, with the approximately 500 staff members at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

He explained that in instances where both LIME and FLOW had fibre cables overlapping, they had moved to divest one of the operations, as per the FTC’s ruling.

“There are 56,000 homes where there is an overlapping network. So what we have had to do was to identify everyone of those homes, which is a lot of work from all the drawings and the drafting work we have done and the engineering, and then essentially transfer that fibre into a separate company with 56, 000 homes and that’s what we have done,” said Bentley.

“And it has got two booster stations as part of that package. So it is a separate entity now and is being moved into a separate legal ownership and there is an appointment of a monitor [trustee] to make sure that that asset is run separately. So that is where we are,” he said, adding that the FTC was “pleased with the progress” made.

As for the evaluation of the assets, Bentley opted not to give a figure, saying, “at the end of the day it would be valued on what someone is prepared to pay for it”.

“We have had 14 expressions of interest because it is a good network. It is a ready-made network and we are hoping to get a decent price for that network. It allows for competition and it supports choice and we are all up for that,” he said. He added that the interests expressed were both local and international.

Another stipulation made by the FTC was that the merged entity must be technically ready for Local Number Portability (LNP) in the fixed network by September 30, 2015 and Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in the mobile network by November 30, 2015.

Bentley said the new entity was ready for MNP since that was easier.

“In mobile we are ready but in fixed it takes a bit longer simply because we have a lot of exchanges around the island. We have to do quite a bit of work, but we will be ready for that,” he said.

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