Sunday, December 17, 2017

Cable & Wireless plan ‘similar to TSTT’s’

 Chief executive of telecoms provider Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd (TSTT) George Hill has said his vision for the company is in line with proposals advanced by its minority shareholder Cable & Wireless (C&W).

“While it is not the practice for TSTT’s management to discuss owner­ship structure, the company has noted the comments from the chief executive officer of minority shareholder, Cable & Wireless Phil Bentley as to how C&W would chart a course for TSTT’s future, defend its market against international competitors, invest in infrastructure and support Government rural ICT (information and communications technology) centres.

“The C&W’s plan is very much in keeping with similar initiatives TSTT already had in place and new ones set in motion as part of our five-year strategic plan that was previously presented to C&W representatives,” Hill said in a statement yesterday. 

He was responding to Bentley’s comments during an interview with the Express on Wednesday.

Cable & Wireless is a 49 per cent shareholder in TSTT. Bentley said the company would like to acquire two per cent more of TSTT and was prepared to spend millions of dollars to expand TSTT’s capabilities.

In response, Hill said: “Further, while it is encouraging to note Cable and Wireless’ interest in making investments in the company, it is unfortunate that this announcement may have the effect of undermining the com­pany’s independent investment proposal that has received very positive interest from potential financiers.”

He said his vision for TSTT was a clear roadmap focused on growth, return on invested capital and, most importantly, realignment of the company to better serve customers. 

“With these three drivers as our guiding principles; our staff, management and I are taking the necessary steps today to become a fully customer-oriented, lucrative, modern company,” Hill’s statement said.

In August 2013, the executive team presented to the TSTT’s board of directors, comprising representatives for Cable & Wireless, along with NEL, a robust strategic plan that charts the next five years of continued sustainable, profitable success, he said.

Hill said milestones of the plan have already materialised:

“On January 29, in keeping with the strategic plan, TSTT introduced one of our first fibre optic-based initiatives; the launch of the country’s first ever gigabit community where residents in the area receive internet access speeds of up to one gigabit per second.

“On March 26, as part of an ongoing collaboration between TSTT and the Ministry of Science and Technology, we co-launched a rural information communication centre in Cumana- Northeast Trinidad.

“In addition to these initiatives, TSTT owns and operates the country’s largest fibre optic network, stretching greater than five thousand kilometres across Trinidad and Tobago, and plans to expand our coverage to another 45,000 homes within the next three years,” Hill said.

Since the formation of TSTT in 1991, the company has remained profitable with the exception of one year, he said. 

“As a result, the initial shareholder investment of $537 million has grown to the point where the company’s shareholder equity stood at $3.2 billion as of December 2013. Moreover, within the last five years, without seeking additional shareholder investment or external debt financing, the company has aggressively invested almost $4 billion in capital expenditure in the upgrade and expansion of its network infrastructure from internally gene­rated profits.

“On this journey over the life of the company, TSTT has paid dividends to shareholders of $2.6 billion without further equity injections since their initial investment,” Hill said.