Sint Maarten government keen to trade UTS stake for East Caribbean assets

12 May 2014

According to unconfirmed Caribbean media reports, the government of Sint Maarten has signalled its willingness to take control of the East Caribbean mobile assets currently controlled by Curacao-based United Telecommunication Services (UTS) – in exchange for its own minor stake in the UTS group. The matter was raised by Sint Maarten’s shareholder representative Dennis Richardson at a general board meeting last month, ostensibly in response to UTS’ well-documented approach to acquire Sint Maarten-based TelEm Group.

Since the October 2010 dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles, Sint Maarten has held a 12.5% stake in UTS, while Curacao holds the remaining 87.5%. Unwilling to cede control over TelEm, its chief telecoms asset, Sint Maarten now believes that a share swap would be in the best interests of both parties.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, outside of its domestic market, UTS counts mobile subsidiaries in Sint Maarten (UTS Sint Maarten), Bonaire (Chippie Bonaire), Saint Martin & Saint Barthelemy (UTS Caraibe), Sint Eustatius (Chippie St Eustatius), Saba (Chippie Saba), Saint Kitts & Nevis (UTS Cariglobe) and Suriname (UNIQA). It is believed that Sint Maarten is keen to take control of all of the aforementioned assets, barring UNIQA in Suriname, a country on the north-eastern Atlantic coast of South America

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in May 2013 UTS confirmed that the company’s loss-making subsidiaries in Suriname and Saint Kitts & Nevis had been put up for sale, with the telco keen to devote its energies to its domestic market.

Bonaire, Curaçao, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint-Martin, Sint Maarten, Chippie Bonaire (UTS), TelEm Group (incl. TelCell), UNIQA (became part of Digicel Suriname), UTS (Saint-Martin), UTS CariGlobe (Saint Kitts & Nevis), UTS/Chippie Curacao, UTS/Flow Sint Maarten