Seychelles' government to protect local customers as Liberty Global acquires Cable & Wireless
The headquarters of Cable & Wireless Seychelles in the island nation's capital of Victoria. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles’ government is putting conditions on the acquisition of Cable & Wireless by Liberty Global to protect local customers, says a top official.
“The government feels that local customers should be protected, and that is why we have set out these conditions, although the acquisition is a fait accompli,” said Jean-Paul Adam, Minister of Finance, Trade and Blue Economy.
The sale of Cable & Wireless Communication which includes Cable & Wireless (Seychelles) to Liberty Global was confirmed in mid-May at a value of $7.4 billion.
Liberty Global operates in over 30 countries and says it 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.
One of the conditions that Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, is requiring of Liberty Global is that the company maintain investment levels in its infrastructure.
Adam said this is of critical commercial and strategic importance for the development of the country, to ensure consumers are provided with affordable and accessible telecommunications and internet options.
“Cable & Wireless is not just any company, it’s a strategic company that all Seychellois depend on in one way or another, so it is important that the process is done smoothly,” he said, adding that because Seychelles was a small market with few telecommunication companies, it was important that the acquisition does not destabilize the market.
Liberty Global has also been asked to settle appropriate compensations and benefits to all Cable & Wireless (Seychelles) staff members in accordance with the Seychelles' laws.
“The company is liaising with the ministry responsible for employment for the restructuring of the company, and I am aware that there will be redundancies, but we are not certain about how many people will be affected,” said Adam.
Cable & Wireless (Seychelles) was set up in 1893 as the Eastern and South African Telegraph Company linking Seychelles to Zanzibar when the island nation first joined the world telecommunication network.
The company employs 200 staff. Cable & Wireless (Seychelles) has not yet responded to SNA on how the Liberty Global acquisition could affect the company including the staff.
The government has also requested Liberty Global to make 30 percent of Cable and Wireless (Seychelles) available for local investors through the Seychelles’ Stock Exchange.
Adam said this would allow continued local participation in this strategic sector and ensure that money made is not repatriated overseas but that some remains in the local market.
“The government expects Liberty Global to respect our laws, but we will await their response for the other conditions. But so far no objections have been made,” Adam told SNA.
A deadline of June 15 was given for the company to respond to the terms the government has requested.