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TSTT finalising $1.5 billion loan

By \\\\\ Curtis Rampersad Publications Editor

State-controlled telecoms company Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) is finalising a $1.5 billion loan to transform itself into a more streamline, more technologically advanced mobile and internet services provider.

Acting chief executive George Hill said yesterday the company had put out a competitive tender for the underwriting services of a bond.

“We are borrowing TT$1.5 billion...for this bond through ANSA Finance and we are in the final stages of closing this. We expect by August to complete it,” he told journalists at media breakfast at TSTT’s Edward Street, Port of Spain, offices.

The debt financing is being executed on the strength going forward of TSTT’s balance sheet and without the need to secure a Government guarantee. 

Money raised in the bond will be used for organisational transformation, infrastructure and wireless development.

It is a component of TSTT’s five-year transformation plan to make the company leaner, to help it focus on mobile and broadband services.

TSTT is also proceeding apace with its voluntary separation and voluntary early retirement programme to streamline the organisation.

The company’s current workforce stands at about 2,750 and Hill said the objective was to reduce this by about 25 per cent, Hill said.

This would equate to around 680 people, by Express calculations.

“VSEP is well underway, we have folks who have decided to leave, we have folks who are staying and we have made provisions for training for them,” given the company’s focus on  information and communications technology, Hill said.

The first tranche of VSEP took place in June and there other tranches scheduled for the end of July, August, September and October. 

Hill said TSTT needed to invest in its infrastructure to develop its wireless, broadband and wireless broadband services, especially for areas of the country where it was not feasible to run cable lines.

TSTT launched wireless broadband in Sangre Chiquito in Trinidad, and in Tobago a few months ago.

Hill said the company’s aim was to spend 75 cents of every dollar it made on mobile and broadband.

It is in part of compete with newer providers like Digicel and a possible third mobile provider in the near future. 

TSTT recorded a loss of more than half-a-billion dollars for its financial year ended March 31, 2014.

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