Curacao’s state-owned telecoms group United Telecommunication Services (UTS) expects to secure a strategic partner ‘in the short term’, reports the Curacao Chronicle. In a letter to its shareholders (the governments of Curacao [87.5%] and Sint Maarten [12.5%]) the fixed and mobile operator said that the process of obtaining a strategic co-owner is ‘progressing steadily’, on the basis of which it confirmed it will pay shareholder dividends this month of ANG14.2 million (USD7.9 million) as part of a recently agreed dividend payment plan of ANG42 million in three tranches ending June 2019.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that UTS and Sint Maarten government-owned TelEm Group have previously staged merger talks, and in March 2017 Sint Maarten’s government confirmed that the on/off discussions had resumed under a proposal which would give TelEm/UTS 60%/40% respectively in an enlarged entity, but no subsequent developments were announced.
Alongside its Curacao operations, UTS has subsidiaries in Sint Maarten, Saint-Martin (and Saint Barthelemy), Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba.
Earlier this month, UTS reported a net loss of ANG31 million for full-year 2017, compared to a net profit of ANG10.2 million in 2016 (2015: ANG40.6 million profit). Factors pressuring the group’s net income included a staff layoff process (costing ANG30 million in 2017) with personnel being reduced from 480 to 200 by 2020, plus the devastating hurricane damage in Sint Maarten/Saint-Martin, as well as a general decrease in voice call volumes.