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COMMUNICATING THE TRUTH: CWU SEEKS ANSWERS ON TSTT IMPENDING ACQUISITION OF MASSY COMMUNICATIONS

posted 15 May 2017, 18:25 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 15 May 2017, 18:45 ]
The Communication Workers’ Union, (CWU), would like to publicly express its grave concern with respect to the recent announcement by the Board of Directors of the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago Limited, TSTT, about their Share Purchase Agreement with Massy Communications Limited, a Subsidiary of the Massy Holdings Ltd. (Massy).

The Union would like to get some clarity about this situation so that the Union and the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago can be more educated and informed on such a critical development in a very key State Entity.

THE BENEFITS OF STATE INTEREST IN THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS SECTOR 

TSTT Is a State Owned Entity with 49% Minority Shareholder Cable and Wireless. The Government has 51% Shareholding Interest in TSTT. The Government’s 51% Shareholding is vested in the National Enterprise Limited, (NEL), an Investment Holding Company Set up in 1999. NEL has Shares in the following Companies: NFM; NGC NGL; NGC TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO LNG; TSTT and TRINGEN.

TSTT has a strong loyal customer base, with a network and plant infrastructure that covers almost the entire geographical space of Trinidad and Tobago. 
In addition, TSTT being the only INDIGENOUS player in the Telecommunications Market for over fifty odd years has developed a cadre of competent, well educated, knowledgeable and experienced personnel in the Telecommunications Business. This is a great asset that cannot be matched or duplicated. 
A BRIEF SYNOPSIS OF THE MASSY GROUP AND THEIR INTERESTS 

Massy Communications is a subsidiary of the Massy Holdings Ltd. (Massy). Massy is a publicly listed company, with 7,500 shareholders. 

The owners of the Company include some institutional investors like the NIB, RBC Trust Limited, Republic Bank and the Unit Trust, plus quite a number of individual shareholders inclusive of some Directors of the Company. 

Massy operates in around five different Sectors, Integrated Retail; Automotive and Industrial Equipment; Energy and Industrial Gases; Financial Services and Information Technology and Communications. 

One of Massy’s key business strategies is the pursuit of growth in all Sectors locally, regionally and in the Latin American Territories. 

Massy Communications Limited (Massy Communications) is a Trinidad & Tobago based subsidiary of the Massy Group. Founded in 2006, by the then Neal and Massy ITC Group, Massy Communications has built a next-generation MPLS based network and made significant investments in both submarine and terrestrial fibre optic capacity. 

The vision of the Massy Communications Limited is to be the leader in next generation technology in the telecommunications industry hence its vision statement: “Where Next is Now.” Their philosophy is articulated as: Your Partners, Real People, Sharing your Passion. 

Massy Communications has partners and affiliates operating in over 50 countries of the world, many are some of the world’s finest Tier 1 Telecommunications providers. Massy Communications’ growing fibre optic network enables the Company to provide clients operating in sectors such as Energy, Financial services, International Telecommunications and Government with multiple classes of voice and data services. 

It must be noted that key members of the Massy Holdings Ltd. Board of Directors include Mr. Robert Bermudez, Chairman, who it is alleged has a close relationship with the PNM Government based on the recent UWI, Vice Chancellor fiasco in addition to being a Director of RBC Financial Caribbean Ltd, which is associated to RBC Trust, which is also a leading institutional Shareholder in Massy Holdings Ltd., and Richard Young, Non Executive Director, who is the father of the current Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Stuart Young. 

In addition, one of the leading institutional investors in Massy is Republic Bank, which ironically is the same Bank that TSTT raised its Credit Facilities through to facilitate its Strategic Plan. Oh, what a Tangled Web they weave when they seek to Deceive!! 

The Telecommunications Sector in Trinidad and Tobago is considered to be the hub around which the advancement of our economy would revolve. 

TSTT is an Essential Service Provider and as such must have an intrinsic link to the National Developmental thrust. TSTT is very critical to our key national developmental objectives such National Security, Economic Diversification, Social Development, Educational Development, Health Care and Cultural consciousness which the CWU believes must be realised through the State involvement in the Telecommunications Sector. 

Historically, the major beneficiaries from the revenues generated from the Telecommunications Sector are the foreign Multi National Corporations such as Cable and Wireless, Columbus Communications and DIGICEL. The Caribbean region generates about US 5 Billion dollars in revenue in the Telecom Sector annually. 

If we would recall, Cable and Wireless acquired Columbus Communications which had John Malone as one of its main shareholders. 

After that acquisition, John Malone ended up as one of the Major Shareholders of Cable and Wireless and subsequently thereafter, his fully owned Liberty Global, acquired Cable and Wireless. Essentially, meaning that Malone who was bought out by Cable and Wireless, ended up as a major shareholder in Cable and Wireless and then eventually bought out Cable and Wireless, a case of “himself to himself”, or as we put it, ‘CORPORATE PROSTITUTION”. 

It is therefore imperative that the Country and the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago should benefit from such indigenous generated revenues, consistent with the provisions of our Constitution and not corporate raiders such as Malone or local tycoons who does not have the national interest at heart.

CONTRADICTIONS IN PUBLIC POSITIONS OF TSTT AND GOVERNMENT 

TSTT does not have an Executive Chairman, but the Chairman of the Board of Directors made the announcement about the Share Purchase Agreement and defended it by stating that it is an operational issue and as such, there was no requirement to disclose it to the Cabinet or to the Public Accounts Enterprise Committee of Parliament. If it is an operational issue, then the Chairman was quite out of place to be speaking to operational issues.

TSTT announced that the Price for the Share Purchase Agreement was $TT 255 M Dollars, while unconfirmed information now surfacing suggests that Board approval was given for $TT 225 M Dollars. In addition, it is alleged that some Board Members were not aware of the additional $TT 30M Dollars which was announced by the Chairman.

Three (3) Cabinet Ministers publicly stated that neither they nor the Cabinet had any knowledge of this Acquisition but the Prime Minister subsequently stated that the Cabinet was aware of it since it was covered in the Strategic Plan which the Cabinet approved. As the Recognised Majority Union, we were privy to a presentation of the Company’s Strategic Plan and nowhere in that Plan was there any mention of any acquisition of Massy by the Company. So we are left to ask why was there such a haste to enter into this Share Purchase Agreement when the Company recently indicated that there was a Facilities Sharing arrangement which would have allowed TSTT to access the same Fibre Facilities and Plant that they have now paid Millions of dollars for.

The Prime Minister stated that there is no Micro Managing at TSTT, but a NON Executive Chairman says that he is speaking on Operational issues. This is contrary to the Board’s mandate which is to deal with Governance, Policy and Strategic initiatives. So who is really “Communicating the Truth”?

MASSY HOLDINGS BIGGER INTERESTS 

We verily believe that there is a bigger picture and there is an “End Game” for somebody in this transaction because it is our very knowledgeable understanding that Massy Holdings has expressed an interest in acquiring the majority Shareholding at TSTT. It is also public knowledge that Cable and Wireless must sell their 49% Shareholding in TSTT because of their acquisition of Columbus Communications. 
QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED 

Ø Is this a similar corporate acquisition like that of Cable and Wireless and Columbus Communications, where the vendor (John Malone) ended up as the Majority Shareholder of the Purchaser, (Cable & Wireless), as stated earlier? 

Ø Was the Massy Holdings Group or any of their key operatives major Financiers of the PNM in the last National General Election? 

Ø Was the appointment of the new TSTT Chairman the facilitative process for this strange relationship between TSTT and Massy? 

Ø Is this a holding strategy to accomplish one of Massy’s key business strategies which is the pursuit of growth in all Sectors locally, regionally and in the Latin American Territories? 

Ø Is it that Massy Holdings is now positioning itself to leverage on its regional presence to make a Play for a Telecommunications presence in the Caribbean Region, which would certainly lead to growth in all sectors regionally? 

Ø Is this acquisition the precursor to the realisation of Massy Communications stated vision of being leader in next generation technology in the telecommunications industry? Remember that their vision statement is: “Where Next is Now.” 

So is the next move the purchase of the 49% Cable & Wireless Shareholding since they have now initiated this deal? 

Ø Why did the Prime Minister publicly support his alleged personal friend, Mr. Elias and publicly belittle and embarrass his Cabinet Ministers? 

Ø Is it that these Cabinet Ministers do not understand what they are approving at Cabinet meetings, since the PM stated that the Cabinet gave approval to TSTT’s Strategic Plan, but others say they did not know anything about any acquisition? 

Ø What exactly would TSTT acquire from Massy Communications in this strange Share Purchase Agreement since they already have a Facilities Sharing arrangement to have access to Massy Fibre Facilities? 

Ø What will become of the Human Resources at Massy Communications? 

Ø What will be the status of those duplicated Jobs in TSTT and Massy Communications and by extension, what will become of the workers who occupies those Jobs? 
It is also public knowledge that this sale has been postponed on some four (4) occasions by the Telecommunications Authority, TATT, and the National Enterprise Limited, NEL, the latest deadline date for this sale to be concluded being June 30, 2017. 

So in the face of this new deadline, all of a sudden and out of the blues, TSTT has announced this Share Purchase Agreement with Massy Communications. 

We find it very curious that this Transaction was hustled through just before the deadline date for the sale of the 49% Shareholding in TSTT, which Massy Holdings Ltd., the parent Company of Massy Communications, has expressed an interest in purchasing.

CONCLUSION 

There are a lot of unanswered questions relative to this development, but the CWU, consistent with its stated mandate to “Communicate the Truth’, is seeking answers to these questions. This is only the first in a series of publications that we believe are absolutely essential as we Dare to Struggle and Communicate the Truth.

We call on the Chairman of TSTT, the CEO of TSTT and the Prime Minister to “Speak Truth to Power”, “Communicate the Truth” and enlighten the public about this situation since they seem to be the only ones who have intricate details about this troubling Share Purchase Agreement.

We await some Public Answers. For this we “Dare to Struggle”. A word to the Wise is sufficient.

Joseph Remy
Secretary General
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