Cable & Wireless ‘Amalgamation’ and Lack of an Operational Barbados Stock Market

Submitted by Crusoe

The Nation news reports that C&W is seeking to purchase all remaining shares in the company, from minority shareholders ”Under the proposed amalgamation, shareholders will surrender their shares in Cable & Wireless Barbados in exchange for a cash payment of BBD$2.86 for each common share.”

For a company that has not paid a dividend for years, yet made substantial profits, how can such a low share price be substantiated?

Surely the FSC should examine the calculations supporting such a share price, including the expected future earnings potential of the shares, as a share price should be calculated.

That C&W Barbados has not paid a dividend in years would, while making profits, is shocking, would surely not be allowed by shareholders in North America (the directors would have been roasted, as NA shareholders in any company expect a dividend every quarter) and this ridiculously low share price merely adds insult to injury.

What exactly is the FSC in Barbados doing to protect minority shareholders?

This event adds credence to the assertion that there is no real stock market in Barbados, that any semblance of such is a veneer, with no real possibility of small shareholders earning via dividends or share appreciation. Add to this, that profitable companies locally are mostly privately owned and the whole thing becomes a joke.

If one believes that assertion and I do, then the conclusion is that Barbadian citizens should be allowed to invest in international stock markets, to have every opportunity that others have. Handcuffing Barbadians in using their earned income to invest is idiocy. Government policy on investments, limitations on overseas investment, is nonsense and needs to change.

There is not and will never be a viable stock market in Barbados.

LIME’s Operations Must be AUDITED

News out of Jamaica this week is that LIME has to pay Digicel more than J$1.5 billion dollars for wrongly withholding money for calls from LIME’s fixed line subscribers to Digicel mobile phones. This is not the first time the regulators have had to arbitrate to force telecommunications companies in the region to do the honest thing. All the while LIME, Digicel and the others push the message of being good corporate citizens.

Have we, Barbadian consumers, ever wondered who is championing our rights? In the same way LIME and Digicel who are always at each other’s throats to demand their rights – what about the consumers? The Fair Trading Commission (FTC) and other bodies have been created with supporting legislation to safeguard consumer interest as well as the Utilities but one gets the impression after several years that the system is not responding to citizens in the same way it does for the utilities.  What are consumers to do in the circumstances? Our politicians have no motivation to change anything because they are puppets of these corporate marauders. We have a non existent consumer body. Our citizens are lazy and see no need to forcefully demonstrate against the system. Some will say we deserve being chaffed.

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Vote NO to Cable & Wireless Columbus Merger

The Fair Training Commission (FTC) is advising on its website that on the 24 November, 2014 an application was received from Cable & Wireless Communications Plc and Columbus International Inc seeking permission to merge the local subsidiaries (C&W and LIME) in Barbados in accordance with Section 20 (7) of the Fair Competition Act.

Pursuant to its remit the FTC has invited “all service providers, businesses, representatives of consumer groups, non-governmental organisations, residential consumers and all other parties with an interest in this matter, to submit their comments on the merits or demerits of the proposed merge”.

The FTC has attracted strong criticism from the general public because it is perceived as an entity that is pro utilities in its rulings. The public has an opportunity to participate in an online survey under the cloak of anonymity – see survey as well as to share concerns about the proposed merger of LIME and C&W in Barbados.

Barbados Underground is firmly of the view a merger of the two entities will bring monopoly into play, again. Further, it makes a mockery of the decision to deregulate the local market which has allowed Digicel and other players to introduce competition to the local market. We therefore vote NO to the proposed merger.

C&W FLOW Merger: All Eyes on the Regulator

Submitted by Anthony Davis
Chairman of Cable & Wireless Sir Richard Lapthorne

Chairman of Cable & Wireless Sir Richard Lapthorne

It may not have the blessing of regional regulators and even consumers at this stage, but shareholders of Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), the parent of LIME, today voted overwhelmingly in favour of the merger with Columbus International Inc., operator of the consumer brand, Flow” – Barbados Today

Once again the former colonial masters – in the form of the CWC shareholders – are seeking to put their former slaves – in the form of the regulators of the various Caribbean countries – back in shackles. How else is one to interpret the words of CWC’s Chairman Sir Richard Lapthorne when he sees it as a foregone conclusion that, if the shareholders in Britain – which it takes an 8.5 hour flight to get to – have voted for this juggernaut,  the regulators here must only ask how high when the shareholders say to jump.

I find it an affront to the dignity and intelligence of the people of the Caribbean that he could come to such a conclusion without any of the regulators having made a decision. In Britain there are still persons who think that Barbados is part of Jamaica, and I have a big problem with that.

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Cable & Wireless Tied to Government Surveillance Program

 the latest documents reveal the actual names of the cables the NSA and GCHQ had access to as of 2009 as well as their “egress” speed—the volume of data that the agencies could pull from the cables.

...the latest documents reveal the actual names of the cables the NSA and GCHQ had access to as of 2009 as well as their “egress” speed—the volume of data that the agencies could pull from the cables...

The news Cable & Wireless has acquired Columbus has generated a lot of discussion across the Caribbean. How it translates in Barbados – if the Fair Training Commission agrees – the local Internet/broadband market will revert to a monopoly with a merger of LIME and FLOW. Barbadian consumers were promised competition in a deregulated telecommunications market, now we have gone full circle. One wonders therefore what is the purpose of the Fair Trading Commission.

There is another reason to be sceptical of Cable & Wireless.

According to a report in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the telecommunications company Cable & Wireless—now a subsidiary of Vodafone—“actively shaped and provided the most data to GCHQ surveillance programs and received millions of pounds in compensation.”

The relationship was so extensive that a GCHQ employee was assigned to work full time at Cable & Wireless (referred to by the code name “Gerontic” in NSA documents) to manage cable-tap projects in February of 2009. By July of 2009, Cable & Wireless provided access to 29 out of the 63 cables on the list, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the data capacity available to surveillance programs…

It’s not clear from the documents whether any of the 63 cable taps on the GCHQ list are NSA-provided, though a number of them have US landfalls—including Pacific cables connecting from the US to Japan and China and a number of cables serving the Caribbean, South, and Central America.

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Cable & Wireless (LIME) Leaps for DIGICEL’s Jugular!

Submitted by Anthony Davis
Should C&W's acquisition of FLOW be stopped?

Should C&W’s acquisition of FLOW be stopped?

The battle for the number one spot in Barbados’ lucrative telecommunications market is back on. Former monopoly provider Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) today served notice that it will not ‘roll over’ and play dead while its main competitor Digicel  continues its expansion.” – Barbados Today 6 November 2014

They have billions to spend on buying out a company to obtain monopoly status, but they don’t have any money to spend on a Barbadian Call Centre which would stop people from  asking where well-known places and towns in Barbados are? We don’t need a juggernaut – especially when LIME is involved. That will bring us more headaches than when it held the monopoly before.

I find it despicable that Flow jumped into bed with LIME without even telling its workers. That’s not the way to treat workers!

The main problem here will be the number of people who will be fired, thereby putting more strain on the Government coffers, because many will claim unemployment benefits, and some will have to go cap-in-hand to the Welfare Department also. LIME is the one with the sour grapes because it lives up to its name as spelled out in its acronym. I think that the FTC should reject this proposed amalgamation!

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LIME Introduces Caribsurf Emailers to Googlemail

Submitted by St.George’s Dragon

LIMELime appears to have made a botch of the transfer of their email system over to Googlemail. All users were mean to be transferred over to Googlemail as of 16th September (today) but everyone I talk to says their email is down.

Can anyone enlighten us as to what is happening and the extent of the problem?

Cable & Wireless: When is a LIME not Local?

Send info to BU by using the contact form at the bottom of this blog

Send info to BU by using the contact form at the bottom of this blog

The following was received from a trusted source and BU adds its voice to the query.

Barbados Underground

“It is alleged that a Canadian who has Barbados citizenship is living in Barbados and being paid out of Cayman and not paying a cent of taxes to the Barbados Government. Her name is apparently J*****er M*******son from Cable and Wireless and all the Executives know and is pushing it under the carpet. Maybe this is why our economy is how it is.

Please let this email address remain anonymous. But do some investigating around it. It was reported to the tax department and no one seem to have followed up on it and this individual would owe hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

If there information out there to clarify this matter please send to the BU confidential comment box below which can only be read by BU personnel. Continue reading

LIME BWU Dispute: Social Partnership Failing

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank/Watchdog Group
Sir Leroy Trotman (l), Minister of Labour Byer-Sukoo (r)

Sir Leroy Trotman (l), Minister of Labour Byer-Sukoo (r) – Credit: Barbados Today

For some time, we have warned that the trade union movement in Barbados was being marginalized. The coziness with employers brought about by the so-called Social Partnership, has long been a cause of concern to the Mahogany Coconut Group. The frequent love fests of the employers’ representatives and the union bosses were brilliant public relations stunts designed to fool those who don’t understand the treachery inherent in such exercises.

We have reached a state of utter delusion, if we believe that the playing field is level and the actions of LIME clearly demonstrate that the Social Partnership is exactly that-nothing more than high level social gatherings and smiles for the cameras.

Recession or no recession, we cannot surrender the rights of workers and their representatives to be respected. The truth is that LIME decided to dismiss workers while promising to continue the collective bargaining process. No self respecting union can take such an insult lightly.

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LIME Experiencing Problems At The Border Gateway

LIME experiencing Gateway problems

BU understands that Cable & Wireless is currently experiencing serious Internet networking issues. According to a BU family member the problem is complicated to explain in layman terms but involves something called Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). This is a protocol used by big Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and carriers to exchange routing information between each other.

To translate: several Internet services currently cannot reach Barbados LIME customers. LIME has been experiencing the problem since 13.07.2012 and  it may not be resolved for a few more days. Without an active Fair Trading Commission and Consumer organization the Barbados public is left to ferret information based on the effort of a few good souls.

We also take this opportunity to highlight the recent offer by LIME to double the ADSL bandwidth of customers. Customers should be aware that at the end of the offer is a caveat. If you do not respond to LIME to say you refuse the service your ADSL billing will be increased! It is not free!

Residential
  • 1 goes to Up to 2mbps
  • 1.5 goes to Up to 4mbps (3 month trial, at the end of which, the customer must opt out or will be billed at the new 4mbps rate).
  • 2 goes to Up to 4mbps
Business 
  • 2 goes to Up to 4Mbps
  • 4 goes to Up to 8Mbps
  • 6 goes to Up to 12Mbps

LIME Defines Corporate Greed

Alex McDonald – LIME Official

In a Press release issued yesterday, LIME announced “all post-paid mobile customers completing data streaming, browsing, tethering and downloading of documents, games and any other transactions which go via the WAP (Wireless Access Protocol) and/or Internet Gateways on the LIME data network will be billed”.

Nation Newspaper – 4/5/2012

Barbados Underground agrees with the decision by LIME’s management to increase mobile rates effective July 1, 2012. Today many Barbadians have been demonstrating outrage via the various media channels at what they believe is the obtuse manner LIME has unleashed its new pricing plan.  BU would venture the opinion that LIME has made its decision full in the knowledge that Barbadians will ‘keep noise’ but continue to subscribe to their services. Truth be told BU can’t wait until the next increase.

LIME prides itself on being a good corporate citizen although BU recalls that it was one of the first companies in Barbados at the onset of the global recession to retrench staff. It should come as no surprise after the recent settlement of the collective bargaining agreement with the Barbados Workers Union that LIME would seek to find ways to boost its revenue position.  It now has three quarters to get the job done.

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Will The Fair Trading Commission Protect Consumers From EMERA And LIME?

Emera CEO Chris Huskilson

On Friday, Emera showed a profit attributable to shareholders of $241.1 million ($1.97 per share) on revenue of $2.06 billion for all of 2011. That compares to a profit of $190.7 million ($1.65 per share) on revenue of $1.6 billion in fiscal 2010.

The company credits gains earned by Caribbean subsidiary Light & Power Holdings Ltd. for helping achieve impressive profits, but there is no denying Nova Scotia Power is the big earner for Emera. According to figures, the regulated provincial power monopoly contributed more that half the profit earned by the parent in 2011.

 Herald Business

We now have the ridiculous situation enduring in harsh economic conditions where the parent company of the Barbados Light and Power (BL&P) has earned record profits of 241 million for 2010. The business theory indoctrinates that private enterprise is established for the primary reason to create value for the shareholder. Who can fault Emera for the enviable position it finds itself. However the following statement in the report that “The company credits gains earned by Caribbean subsidiary Light & Power Holdings Ltd. for helping achieve impressive profits.”  should be of of interest to Barbadians. More particular it should be of interest to the beast we refer to as the Fair Trading Commission (FTC).

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