Are you Sure? CICRA provisionally approves Channel Islands components of Batelco deal

27 Feb 2013

The Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authorities (CICRA) has provisionally approved the proposed acquisition of Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) in the Channel Islands, by Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco). In December 2012 Batelco announced its intentions to acquire the ‘Monaco & Islands’ division of CWC, which includes the company’s ‘Sure’-branded assets in both Jersey and Guernsey. Although Batelco shareholders voted to approve the USD680 million cash acquisition, the deal remains subject to respective consents and approvals in each of the applicable markets and other certain closing conditions.

CICRA chief executive Andrew Riseley commented: ‘The focus of our investigation has been on the effect of the change of control on C&W Guernsey, given its position as a dominant, incumbent telecoms operator. We judged that it was particularly important that we were satisfied that Guernsey’s fixed telecoms network would remain fit for purpose now and in the future. We have proposed new conditions for C&W Guernsey’s fixed telecoms licence to address some of the concerns raised by respondents to the consultation about the potential remote management of the business, by ensuring that C&W Guernsey retains appropriate resources within the local business and securing the availability of information to meet regulatory and statutory requirements. In addition, we have signalled that we will use existing licence powers to monitor closely the development of fixed line services in the initial years of Batelco’s ownership. This was entirely focused on the acquisition on the table and our investigation was not about trying to address the complaints that have been raised over the years about the initial sale of Guernsey Telecoms to C&W. C&W has many agreements with service providers and we needed to be sure that Batelco, which doesn’t currently have any operations in Europe, would be able to offer consumers in the Channel Islands the right services and connectivity’.