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PM: Conclusion to BTC talks ‘in short order’

Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: May 07, 2013

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Prime Minister Perry Christie said that there are only “a few minor” details separating the government and executives at Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) from concluding talks on the government’s plans to regain the majority stake in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC).

On Sunday, Christie told The Nassau Guardian that he and CWC CEO Tony Rice are eager to conclude negotiations.

“I have indicated to him (Rice) by telephone last week that given the discussions he and I have had that we are both in agreement that it is now about time to bring everything to a conclusion,” Christie said after a church service held to celebrate his government’s one year anniversary in office. “There are some minor matters, I think, separating us from a final position.”

He added: “So with respect to BTC, BTC is in hand, our discussions will be finalized in short order.”

While on the campaign trail last year, Christie promised that a Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government would reacquire the majority shares in BTC because it did not believe the government should be a minority shareholder.

The party was also strongly against the sale of any shares to CWC. CWC is a 51 percent owner of BTC.

Christie appointed a negotiating team last year led by businessman Franklyn Wilson.

The prime minister admitted to reporters earlier this year that the take-back talks had not gone the way he wanted.

Some have called the government’s talks with CWC fruitless and a waste of time.

“Those persons who said I ought to have known nothing would happen, and nothing could happen, will soon find out whether they were right,” Christie said of his critics. “I am satisfied that all will be well at the end of the process and the country will be much better off as a result of the discussions my group had on behalf of the government, and the discussions I have had personally with respect to that matter.”

Christie met with Rice in New Providence last month. After that meeting, Christie revealed to The Nassau Guardian that Rice was worried about public criticisms he made about BTC’s level of service. Christie also said Rice had concerns about the government’s discussions with Digicel, a CWC regional competitor.

“All of the issues that might have been nagging issues to Cable and Wireless, I was able to address,” Christie said last month. “The whole issue of whether or not there is good faith between him and me, we addressed that, and we both agreed there was good faith and an honest sharing of our views.”

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