Digicel Group, the mobile phone network provider with operations in 31 markets across the Caribbean, Central America, and Oceania, has struck a deal to acquire Bermuda Telephone Company (BTC) – just six months after it was taken over by Canadian group Barrie OpCo. In July 2014 Barrie OpCo, a recently incorporated Bermuda company owned by an independent investor group with experience in telecommunications, purchased 100% of BTC from local telecoms firm KeyTech for BMD30 million (USD30 million) – well below the book price – prompting a regulatory investigation into whether the proposed transactions would have an effect on competition within Bermuda’s electronic communications sector.
However Jamaica-based Digicel, which is owned by Irishman Denis O’Brien and incorporated in Bermuda, has now confirmed its own buyout plan for BTC, saying: ‘As a complete communications and entertainment provider, we are always looking for opportunities to bring the Digicel promise of best service, best value and best network to more people and to grow and enhance our service offering … As such, Digicel and BTC have finalised an agreement whereby Digicel intends to acquire BTC … Digicel believes that BTC’s fixed voice and internet services will complement Digicel’s mobile offerings, allowing Digicel to bring better services and value to consumers.’
No details on the terms of the deal or indeed its value have been disclosed, with a spokeswoman for the Jamaican group noting that the plan is subject to approval by the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda (RAB). A spokesperson for RAB confirmed the acquisition plan, noting: ‘The Authority is actively seeking relevant details of the transaction from both parties to enable the formal review process under the Regulatory Authority Act 2011 to take place.’
BTC executive chairman Roy Graydon, who was part of the Barrie Holdings group of investors which bought BTC, told local press: ‘It was the opportunity to build Bermuda’s leading telecommunications company that attracted us to BTC in the first place … But when Digicel approached us with an offer to combine the businesses, we realised that the two companies would complement each other and, working together, could substantially accelerate the pace of that build, and it was clear that this would be the best and fastest way to enable us to provide the services of the future to consumers in Bermuda.’
If approved, Digicel’s BTC takeover will create a new full-service provider by adding fixed line and internet access services to its existing mobile offerings, putting it on a direct footing with main rival, Bermuda CableVision.