Channel Islands-based JT Global, which offers services on both Jersey and Guernsey, has confirmed that it is in initial talks with Airtel to merge their operations across the Bailiwicks. In a press release, JT has disclosed that the potential merger would require the approval of local regulator the Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authorities (CICRA) and shareholders, should an agreement be reached between the two sides. In the case of JT, it noted, this would require the explicit approval of the States of Jersey. Should the negotiations between the two companies prove ‘fruitful’, the parties would seek to secure such approvals ‘as soon as practicable’.
Confirming some details of the talks, it was revealed that the proposed arrangement under discussion would see Airtel take a strategic minority interest in JT, with the States of Jersey retaining majority control. According to the company, a merged entity would offer significant benefits to consumers, employees, the local economies and shareholders, including: the integration of networks, maximising network coverage and speeds whilst reducing the proliferation of the sites across the Islands; and improved value for money services driven by the economies of scale from being part of a larger group.
However, JT noted that due to the confidential nature of the discussions, neither party will be making any further comments at this point, with further announcements to follow in due course.
Meanwhile, the BBC cites Jersey’s Minster for Treasury and Resources Alan Maclean, who acts as shareholder representative for JT, as saying of Bharti Airtel chairman and CEO Sunil Mittal’s offer to acquire a 25% stake in the company: ‘I am satisfied that his offer is intended to develop and grow the JT business and build on his long term commitment to Jersey … Having considered the offer, the board of JT has confirmed that it views the offer as worthy of very serious consideration.’