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CARICOM Competition Commission probes CWC takeover of Columbus

CARICOM’s Competition Commission (CCC) has launched an investigation into the acquisition of by Cable and Wireless Communications Plc (CWC) to acquire Columbus International.

“The investigation will focus on the impact of the Agreement on competition in the telecommunications sector of members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) which comprise the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL),” it said in a statement.

“The Commission has appointed an investigating panel…to coordinate the investigation into this matter…The Commission expects to complete the investigation within 120 working days with the cooperation of all stakeholders.”

The Suriname-based CCC said the investigation follows the findings of a preliminary examination of the acquisition agreement.

Following the merger announcement, which saw CWC – at the time trading in the Caribbean as LIME– subsuming the regional operations of Columbus, the parent company of FLOW, ECTEL had expressed concerns about the impact it would have on the telecoms market in the Eastern Caribbean.

In March, it said that negotiations with Cable & Wireless regarding the company’s proposed merger with Columbus Communications International have ended without the parties coming to an amicable agreement.

While existing legislation does not give ECTEL the power to stop or put conditions on mergers and acquisitions in the telecommunications sector, the Authority had been working along with the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commissions (NTRCs) to reach agreement on several issues, ever since the merger was announced in November 2014.

Those issues included: the minimum speed and price for entry level broadband packages; maintaining an open Internet; sharing of telecommunications infrastructure for existing and new entrants to provide new services; and protection provisions to ensure customers are not disadvantaged by new services and pricing to be implemented following the merger.

Courtesy: Caribbean 360

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