No merger

Conditions still to be met by LIME and FLOW, says Gibbs-Taitt

Less than a month after telecommunications companies Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) and Columbus International Inc. announced their official rebranding to FLOW, signaling their merger, a consumer rights advocate is questioning the legality of the merger, saying some conditions are still to be met.

In its March 27, 2015 decision, the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) said pursuant to Section 20 (5) of the Fair Competition Act CAP 326C, it had completed its analysis of the merger application, which is subject to a number of conditions, including divestment of one set of the fibre cables in the zone where the LIME and FLOW networks overlapped.

The FTC said it had “considered the overall efficiencies of the merger and the anti-competitive effects, which the merger will create in the Fixed-voice (landline) telephony and Fixed data (broadband internet) services and has determined that the merger should be approved subject to” the conditions it outlined.

On July 16, the company announced its new consumer brand, officially signaling the merger.

The FTC later announced that a trustee was appointed to the new holding company of the vested assets of the two companies, one of the conditions it had outlined.

However, director general of the Barbados Consumer Research Association Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt told Barbados TODAY he still had reservations about the legality of the merger, pointing out that all of the conditions set out by the FTC should first be met before they could say they were officially merged.

Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt
Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt

“Based on the conditions set out by the Fair Trading Commission, I cannot agree that they are merged because the merger would go ahead ‘subject to the following conditions’ being met, and as I am aware only one condition has so far been met,” argued Gibbs-Taitt.

Gibbs-Taitt is also challenging the merger, saying that the condition which called for a buyer of the assets of the holding company within 180 days of the FTC’s merger decision, was not yet met.

Adding that he was aware that a trustee was appointed to the holding company, Gibbs-Taitt said he was also not aware that all current LIME and FLOW broadband and television tariffs were set at the lower level of the tariffs offered by the two companies.

“They did agree with the merger with some conditions. [All] those conditions, as far as I am aware, have not been met. So the way I seeing it is that the companies are behaving as if they are merged but, strictly speaking, in law I don’t think they can claim that they are merged yet because of the conditions that were placed on them have not all yet been met,” argued Gibbs-Taitt.

At the same time, Gibbs-Taitt said he was confident that going forward consumers should rest comfortably knowing that the newly appointed chairman of the FTC was “a legal expert”.

“The good thing about all of this is that the FTC has a new chairman and it is my view that this new chairman understands the law very well and I don’t think consumers need to worry unduly now because they have a legal expert who is now chairman,” said Gibbs-Taitt.

Effective July 10, 2015 until July 2018, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus Jeff Cumberbatch was appointed chairman of the FTC. He replaced Sir Neville Nicholls, a former president of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

6 Responses to No merger

  1. Cumberbatch Sophia
    Cumberbatch Sophia August 6, 2015 at 7:56 am

    Flow now charges the same rates as Lime which is $43.99 for the basic phone with no features. I applied for the service and was given the old price and was told that was what I would pay. The service was installed a couple days after the merger someone called and said that I would have to pay the new price. I called the FTC and was told that if they called and informed me that is the new price then that is what I would pay. I promptly withdrew the service. SO the merger doesnt benefit Barbadians only those who had Flow before who are still paying 3o.oo for the basic service with free calling features.

    • Gail August 6, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      I thought they said we would pay the lower price for the service based on what each company was charging before the merger

  2. Andrena Ceasar
    Andrena Ceasar August 6, 2015 at 8:55 am

    What new and the new chairman understand the law good for him he also understand money

  3. Daniel Polonis
    Daniel Polonis August 6, 2015 at 9:16 am

    if it walks like a Duck looks like a duck acts like a duck and sounds like a duck…its a damn duck….why is there a price increase for the same damn crappy service…and why is guy now Speaking up in August? nothing as frustrating watching TV that buffers every 30 seconds…and a foreign customer service who in a Panamanian accent says “so sorry we will escalte this ..but try and reset your modem first.” like I didnt already do this LIME/FLOW…is lacking

  4. Princess Neferua
    Princess Neferua August 6, 2015 at 10:45 am

    I only hope that the new chairman won’t waver…and take the consumers to heart and approach his new position with integrity and fairness…and don’t let anyone influence or intimidate him..

  5. junior August 6, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    the merger is a way of telling the people that LIME is gone and flow is here, The service is poorer and one can taste the lime juice


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