Digicel welcomes ECTEL intervention in CWC/Columbus deal

CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC) – The Irish-owned telecommunications company, Digicel, has welcomed the announcement by the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ECTEL) regarding the merger between Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) and Columbus Communications (Columbus).

The St Lucia-based ECTEL says the proposed agreement is a matter of significant public interest for the region deserving of rigorous regulatory attention and diligent review.

“We very much welcome this intervention by ECTEL and its expression of support for a rigorous regulatory examination of the proposed acquisition,” said Digicel chief executive officer, Colm Delves.

“Digicel was taken aback by the dismissive position of CWC/Columbus that the Governments of the ECTEL member states and the established Regulatory Authorities in those countries were essentially powerless and had no right to oversee the proposed merger,” he added.

In a statement Wednesday, ECTEL announced its ‘deep concern’ in relation to the proposed transaction and the fact that the proposed merger could ‘potentially result in a negative impact on competition by “reducing choice for consumers of both services and service providers”.

ECTEL further noted that ‘increased monopolisation can erode the gains made by liberalisation’ and that the proposed merger raises significant issues in terms of potential breaches of licences by both CWC and Columbus which must be investigated thoroughly.

CWC and Columbus have already indicated that regulatory notifications and approvals would only be required in the United States, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad.
Delves said the fact that CWC and Columbus “are seeking to essentially put a gun to the heads of the Caribbean regulatory authorities and Governments to approve their transaction on their terms and according to their own self-declared timetables is also a cause for alarm.

“Digicel believes that ECTEL and the NTRCs in each member state have an absolute right, morally as well as legally, to subject the proposed merger to a rigorous examination and approvals process in collaboration with their respective Governments and relevant ministerial bodies,” he added.

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