Major acquisition: Group of Seychellois entrepeneurs buys Cable & Wireless Seychelles
Cable & Wireless Seychelles headquarters in the capital Victoria. (Parick Joubert)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Cable & Wireless Seychelles is now owned entirely by a group of Seychellois entrepreneurs.
The new shareholding group purchased the island nation's top telecommunications company under the group CWS Investment at $130 million from Liberty Global, one of the world’s largest television and broadband companies. The new owners include the JFA Group comprising Jamshed Pardiwalla, Ravji, Rahhwani and Andy Bainbridge, as well as Victoria-based professional services firm ACM, which represented the shareholders in the deal.
ACM’s senior partner, Oliver Bastienne, told reporters in a press conference on Wednesday that the deal was an unprecedented opportunity to bring one of Seychelles' biggest companies into local hands.
|The announcement was made by the new shareholding partners in a press conference on Wednesday. (Louis Toussaint, Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY|
“For a group of Seychellois to piece together an acquisition of this scale from a global multi-national company is a tremendous achievement,” he said.
He added that the group “expect this to have a positive impact for all involved, from the staff to the customers and the country as a whole.”
The chief executive of Cable & Wireless Seychelles, Charles Hammond, said the company has always been owned by foreigners but now “we have the opportunity to deliver to the people in a way that we all understand each other.”
Hammond said despite the new development no big changes are planned and that the company is very successful and profitable. The aim is to keep it number No. 1 in Seychelles and equally profitable, he said.
“Whatever changes that would take place will be positive as we are looking to invest more in services so that we can progressively improve the service quality and delivery to customers,” he said, adding that “even the name will not change.”
The acquisition was financed by a consortium of banks led by Trade Development Bank (TDB), with the participation of Barclays, ABC Banking Corporation of Mauritius and Noubobanq.
Bastienne confirmed that there will be no restructuring plan and no employees will be made redundant.
On the question of the outstanding $16.5 million of stamp duty that Liberty Global had to pay the government when it acquired the company, Bastienne said that provision is being made to settle it under the new management.
Liberty Global operates in over 30 countries and is the world’s largest cable television company with 27 million customers. It is the leading operator in Europe and active in the Caribbean and Latin America through its LiLAC group.
As for opportunities for other Seychellois investors to buy shares, Bastienne said, “In the long run Cable & Wireless Seychelles will make some shares available for other Seychellois to invest. It is important that as we move forward there is wider participation.”
One of the shareholders, Joe Albert, said that this is a good initiative as a lot of the money made by the company was leaving the country and that “now that it is entirely Seychellois-owned the money will remain in Seychelles.”
Cable & Wireless Seychelles is one of the oldest in the country. It was set up in 1893 as the Eastern and South African Telegraph Company linking Seychelles to Zanzibar, when for the first time the island nation joined the world telecommunication network.
The company is one of the two main telecommunication service providers in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The other company is Airtel.
Cable & Wireless Seychelles has fixed, mobile and broadband services and a cable television service.