Published On: Sat, May 10th, 2014

St. Maarten signals interest in taking control of UTC

UTS_logoPHILLIPSBURG, WILLEMSTAD - THE Government of St. Maarten has signaled its interest in taking control of United Telecommunication Services (UTS) Eastern Caribbean Operations.

Shareholder Representative for United Telecommunication Services (UTS) in Sint Maarten, Minister Dennis Richardson said his counterpart, Minister of Communication Earl Balborda, had indicated that he would "take into consideration" St. Maarten's request to swap its shares in the company for control of UTS Eastern Caribbean.

Richardson further stated that Balborda had indicated that the request would be taken into consideration, but he needed more time to look into the plus and minuses of the entire matter.

This was highlighted during the recent General Shareholders Meeting held in April last.

However, as Richardson said, he made the proposal to swap shares because he felt it would be in the best interest of UTS and the TelEm Group of Companies.

This move could create more competition and improved service in St. Kitts and Nevis if it becomes a reality for UTS, a service provider which is yet to make a significant impact on the local market.

United Telecommunication Service is the parent company of Chippie St. Kitts.

Richardson explained that more investments are needed for the company to remain a viable entity. Some of these investments, he noted, are needed in the St. Maarten’s market, adding that his vision is for TelEm and UTS to merge and form a partnership which would create one solid company.

Richardson stated that St. Maarten could not wait indefinitely for an answer from Curaçao.

"In this regard, St. Maarten will have to move forward at a certain point and take decisions."

In the meantime, the UTS Supervisory Board had been against exchanging the company's lucrative operations in the Eastern Caribbean for the shares of St. Maarten as proposed by that island. They asked Balborda to hold off on the matter.

St. Maarten wants to position itself to merge the TelEm Group of Companies with UTS Eastern Caribbean eventually.

With UTS Eastern Caribbean under St. Maarten's control, such a merger would eliminate political and other bottlenecks with Curaçao.

UTS Eastern Caribbean consists of telecom operations in St. Maarten, Saba, Statia, French St. Martin and St. Kitts and Nevis.

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