Green light given to CWS takeover of Columbus International

16th January, 2015

The takeover of Columbus International by Cable and Wireless Communications (CWS) has been approved by the Jamaican technology ministry.

The regulatory authority for the Eastern Caribbean region had previously said that the takeover raised competition concerns and warned that both companies could be in breach of their licenses in making the deal.

The planned takeover also drew criticism from telecommunications provider Digicel.

Digicel chairman Denis O’Brien said the merger would reduced competition in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, according to the Jamaican Observer.

Chris Dehring, chairman of CWS, which trades as LIME Jamaica said that Digicel still holds the lion’s share of mobile subscribers at 2.2 million compared with LIME’s 750,000, the Observer said.

The merger would result in LIME gaining the biggest market share in broadband and cable TV — about 130,000 subscribers compared to Digicel’s 40,000 wi-max broadband subscribers.

The Jamaican technology ministry said in a statement yesterday that it had sought the advice of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) and relied on previous advice regarding a merger between Digicel and Claro Jamaica and that the Telecommunications Act did not authorise any conditions to be placed on the deal.

Given the concerns expressed by O’Brien and others however, the ministry said it sought and received some assurances from LIME, including that customers should be able to keep their existing packages or transfer to a more favourable one if they wish.

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