03 December 2012

Cable and Wireless sells St Helena's only telecommunications provider to Bahrain's Batelco

Cable and Wireless Communications has announced the sale of the majority of its Monaco and Islands division including St Helena's only telecommunications provider, Cable & Wireless South Atlantic Ltd, to Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco). According to Tony Rice, CEO of Cable and Wireless Communications, the £423m deal was part of a focus on growth in the Americas.

Hensil O’Bey, chief executive of St Helena Island said: “We are pleased with today’s announcement that Cable & Wireless South Atlantic will be joining the Batelco Group. Batelco is an international telecoms operator respected for delivering value and innovation to its customers. Batelco is committed to the continuing development of our businesses in St Helena Island and the South Atlantic and will also benefit from its international partnerships and relationships. Nonetheless, our focus will remain on delivering the best services to our customers within St Helena.”

Sheikh Mohamed bin Isa Al Khalifa, chief executive of Batelco, stated the company would invest in the islands' telecommunications. He said: "[It] is a well-managed business that we want to invest in so that it continues to build upon its existing strengths."

The value of the St Helena part of the business was not stated. The sale will need to pass final regulatory conditions, and is expected to be complete by the end of the financial year. In St Helena the regulatory authority is the Governor-in-Council. Cable and Wireless shareholders also have to approve the deal. Batelco intend to pay the £423 million by raising the funds through merchant banks in both France and the United States. Cable and Wireless had previously made it clear they wanted to reduce its geographic spread and concentrate on Central America and The Caribbean. C&W’s Macau business is also likely to be sold off. News of the sale caused the C&W share price to rise by 6%.

High-speed broadband would be huge for education. Not only could we make better use of online materials, but with affordable broadband teachers could develop their practice from home.
I'm an IT engineer and I would love to return to my island to start an IT business, but because of the slow, expensive and unreliable internet connection this is simply impossible.
I had to leave St Helena to study. Being 5000 miles away from my family and friends is hard. Not being able to skype with them due to the slow and expensive internet on St Helena is even harder.
Socioeconomic status is now heavily reliant on broadband penetration. With the ever-growing importance of the internet, St Helena with its limited access is in danger of being left behind.