TelEm, UTS merger back on after ‘renewed talks’

24 Mar 2017

The long anticipated merger between Sint Maarten-based TelEm Group and United Telecommunication Services (UTS) of Curacao finally looks set to come to fruition, after ‘renewed talks’ between the two telcos. Speaking in parliament, Sint Maarten Prime Minister William Marlin confirmed that the on-off discussions were ‘revived’ after the heads of the two companies crossed paths at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona last month. A business plan has now been commissioned; TelEm is expected to have a majority 60% stake in the enlarged entity with UTS holding the remaining 40%. Marlin clarified that there have been no ongoing discussions between TelEm and Digicel Group, as the government is of the opinion that no outside company should control the country’s telecoms infrastructure.

TeleGeography notes that UTS currently competes with Digicel in Curacao, while TelEm and UTS go head-to-head in Sint Maarten, suggesting the possibility of a new operator entering the fray, to alleviate antitrust concerns. Digicel Group and Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC)-backed Flow are expected to monitor the situation with interest.

One company that will not be included in the regional M&A activity is Dauphin Telecom, which is based on Saint-Martin – the French side of the island. Marlin noted that TelEm considered an acquisition approach in order to achieve ‘seamless coverage’ across both sides of the island, but a deal was ‘not financially feasible’.

In other news, it has now been confirmed that TelEm plans to launch its long-awaited 4G LTE network at the end of May. The telco replaced its legacy Switching equipment in August 2016 to pave the way for 4G launch.

Curaçao, Saint-Martin, Sint Maarten, Chippie Bonaire (UTS), Dauphin Telecom (Saint-Martin), TelEm Group (incl. TelCell), UTS, UTS (Curacao), UTS (Sint Maarten), UTS Caraibes (Saint Barthelemy), UTS CariGlobe (Saint Kitts & Nevis), UTS-WICC (Sint Eustatius)