Cable and Wireless and Columbus complete merger

Cable and Wireless Communications announced Tuesday that the company, which operates as LIME in the Cayman Islands, has completed its US$1.85 billion acquisition of all of the equity of Columbus International Inc.

CWC Chief Executive Officer Phil Bentley said the transaction is a transformational deal for Cable and Wireless.

“Not only do we add significant fiber optic submarine backhaul and terrestrial broadband and TV capability to our leading mobile and legacy copper networks in the Caribbean, but our complementary B2B divisions can now offer geographical focus and a wider product offering in the faster-growing Latin American markets,” he said.

The merged company will create opportunities for more investment and the development of the joint companies’ staff that neither company could have achieved on its own, according to the CWC chief executive.

Following the announcement of the transaction on Nov. 6, 2014, competitors and regulators expressed concern that the deal could lead to less competition.

In November 2014, the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority said, based on a review of information available at the time, that the transaction could potentially reduce choice for consumers and create barriers of entry for competitors.

In December last year, Digicel Group CEO Colm Delves said the firm would re-evaluate its investment strategy if regulators approved the deal. He told Jamaica’s Sunday Gleaner that the transaction would result in “virtual monopolies” in fixed telephone, cable TV, on-island fiber, fixed Internet broadband and off-island submarine capacity to the United States.

However, CWC appears to have overcome regulatory objections in most markets where the company operates.

“There has been an extensive and professional regulatory review, with appropriate remedies,” Mr. Bentley said. “We are pleased we now have the necessary government support to conclude this important transaction and to start making the financial commitments required to deliver an outstanding customer experience and to enhance the telecommunications infrastructure and economic development of the communities we serve.”

In the markets that have approved the merger, Cable and Wireless will start to release some of the funds from a US$1.5 billion investment plan.

“In a small number of markets where we have yet to receive all the necessary approvals required, we cannot commence our integration and investment plans; we will therefore continue to support the local regulatory due process until we have the green light to move forward in those markets,” Mr. Bentley said.

He noted that as part of the integration process, the company “is undertaking a full review of all the brands we currently operate under, including the Flow and LIME brands as well as the business and wholesale brands,” but he added that “no decision has yet been made.”