DIGICEL WAITS

December 13, 2005 by admin
Filed under: Business and Economy, Internet and Technology 

The fastest growing telecommunications company in the region will probably have to wait until the new year to find out if it can add the assets of Cingular Barbados to its list of regional acquisitions of that company.

Barbados remains the only island out of a total of 10 regional countries where Digicel has not yet received regulatory approval to acquire Cingulars assets, and CEO of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC), Peggy Griffith, said the process was on schedule, but declined to say whether or not it could be finished before year end.

While not giving up on the possibility of a before year-end decision from the FTC, Digicel CEO, Kevin White said the company was working very closely with the FTC, and was hoping for an approval of the application sometime early in January 2006.

White said while Digi-cels operations were not really affected by the waiting period for a decision from the FTC, it was the staff and management at Cingular Barbados that would really appreciate a quick end to the process.

The sooner it happens, the better for the staff at Cingular. There is more uncertainty for Cingulars staff and customers, and it will be better to them to have the deal closed as soon as possible, White said.

He added that though Digicel was optimistic about the outcome of the FTC investigation into the Barbados merger appli-cation, the company was aware that the FTC had its job to do, and was prepared to accept its findings either way.

Obviously, we hope that has been done in all the other islands, Barbados will approve also, White said. He explained that should the FTC approve the merger, this would pave the way for the integration of the two companies in Barbados, whereas if the decision was in the negative, the likely response would be simply for the companies to continue operating as they do now.

White said the ability to integrate the two com- panies in Barbados, as elsewhere in the region, would not only increase the companys market share in every island, but would allow for a more efficient operation that would redound to the benefit of its customers.

Cingular customers will now benefit from the competitive advantages that Digicel customers already enjoy, and Digicel customers will likewise benefit from the advantages that Cingular brings. So this creates a stronger company with a wider product portfolio that would not be possible otherwise.

While Barbados can be seen as the last to come on board with this merger decision, it must also be borne in mind that of the participating countries, Barba-dos is the only one with a separate and distinct competition regulator fully established in the law, with a mandate to carry out such investigations. While the intention is for all states to move in this direction, and some are in the process of doing so, these functions in other regional states where Cingular operated are still being carried out by ministries of government, or similar civil service agency.

Digicels increased pan-Caribbean GSM network now includes Bermuda, Anguilla, St. Kitts & Nevis and Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Cay-man Islands and Antigua & Barbuda and the company is awaiting regulatory approval in Barbados.

Digicel has also fully acquired the Cingular Wireless licenses in Jamaica, as well as network assets in the Nether-lands Antilles island of Curacao, where Digicel already operates following its acquisition of Curacao Telecom in March 2005. Digicels agreement with Cingular Wireless also includes the planned acquisition of Cingulars licences in the French West Indies islands of St. Martin, Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Barts.

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