CANTO Weekly Newsletter – BNamericas: 08/22/14

CANTO Weekly Newsletter – BNamericas: 08/22/14

4 telcos apply for Trinidad’s third mobile operator license – Trinidad & Tobago
Hondutel avoids US$10mn lawsuit, for now – Honduras
Nextel Chile sold to international consortium – Chile, Regional
El Salvador agreement seeks to reduce mobile phone theft – El Salvador
NII Holdings chooses not to pay US$119mn in interest – Regional

 

4 telcos apply for Trinidad’s third mobile operator license – Trinidad & Tobago

Four companies were named as having applied for a license to become the third mobile operator in Trinidad and Tobago, reported local newspaper Trinidad Express.
The companies cited were: UK-based Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), which holds a 49% stake in Trinidad and Tobago state-controlled telco TSTT; Canada’s Columbus Communications, which provides digital cable TV, broadband and landline telephony in Trinidad under the brand name Flow; Suriname state-owned telco Telesur; and Star Mobile Caribbean, a company registered in Trinidad’s capital Port of Spain.
The country’s telecoms authority is said to be reviewing the applications.
Irish-owned mobile operator Digicel and TSTT are the two mobile service providers currently licensed in Trinidad.
TSTT’s CEO George Hill previously outlined a plan to boost the telco’s competiveness with Digicel via new mobile and internet services.
CWC currently controls 49% of TSTT and the state has 51%. CWC has expressed an interest in acquiring a controlling stake in TSTT, although that would not be likely to occur until after Trinidad’s May 2015 elections, said Phil Bentley, CWC’s CEO.
At the end of 1Q14, there were 1.9mn mobile lines in Trinidad – 1.7mn prepaid and 246,000 postpaid subscriptions – generating gross revenues of TT$644mn, based on figures from Trinidad and Tobago’s telecom regulator TATT.
Hondutel avoids US$10mn lawsuit, for now – Honduras

Honduras’ constitutional court has struck down a 214mn-lempira (US$10.1mn) suit filed against troubled state telco Hondutel.
Judges unanimously voted to have a lower court review the suit filed in 2008 by former Hondutel attorney Rosman Wilfredo Montiel for unpaid professional fees, local daily El Heraldo reported.
The constitutional court questioned the differing amounts in the suits Montiel had filed in several courts, and it will be up to a lower court whether to rule in favor of Montiel or Hondutel.
The news comes as Hondutel reportedly has a dozen lawsuits filed against it, including Montiel’s, totaling US$105mn.
Hondutel, which is on the verge of collapse amid reports of alleged corruption, financial mismanagement and an excessively large workforce, would be reportedly unable to pay the amounts.
Nextel Chile sold to international consortium – Chile, Regional

An international consortium of Argentine, UK and US investors has acquired struggling telco NII Holdings’ Chilean unit Nextel Chile for an undisclosed fee.
The international consortium is composed of Argentine media group Grupo Veintitrés, UK investment fund ISM Capital and US fund Optimum Advisors, Nextel Chile said in a release.
The deal has already been communicated to the US Security Exchange Commission (SEC) and the investors will take immediate control of Nextel Chile.
While the transaction fee was not disclosed, Grupo Veintitrés’ owners Matías Garfunkel and Sergio Szpolski were previously reported to be interested in acquiring Nextel’s Chilean and Argentine operations for around US$250mn.
Nextel Chile has 60MHz of AWS spectrum and reached a market share of around 1.2% at the end of Q1, according to telecoms regulator Subtel statistics, after launching mobile operations in April 2012.
The company had 294,403 subscribers as of the end of March, of which 147,596 were 3G subscribers.
Nextel Chile also has a high penetration of postpaid users among its subscriber base, with contract customers accounting for over half the operator’s users, according to Subtel.
NII Holdings’ share price has plummeted in August after the company announced that it is likely to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings amid falling revenues and widening net losses.
The operator previously said that it is exploring a range of “potential strategic opportunities,” including selling the company.
The sale of Nextel Chile will provide some relief for the operator’s strained liquidity, but it remains to be seen whether this will be enough for NII Holdings to avoid chapter 11.
El Salvador agreement seeks to reduce mobile phone theft – El Salvador

Mobile carriers in El Salvador have signed an information-sharing MOU with telecom regulator Siget facilitate the blocking of stolen handsets.
The telcos and Siget will update daily a database which the GSM Association will then be able to access in order to block devices and stop them from being used in other countries when operators report them stolen, local daily La Prensa Gráfica reported.
The news comes as the country seeks to reduce crime related to mobile phones: El Salvador has about 9mn active mobile phones and there were 1.6mn handset theft reports in the past five years, according to Siget.
The agreement will also help prevent criminals from using stolen devices to commit extortions and other crimes, officials said.
Last week, El Salvador authorities also signed an agreement to install more telecom signal blocking devices in prisons to reduce the number of homicides and extortions facilitated by mobile phones.
NII Holdings chooses not to pay US$119mn in interest – Regional

NII Holdings has elected not to pay approximately US$119mn in interest due on August 15 on senior notes issued by its subsidiaries NII Capital and NII International Telecom.
The senior notes have a 30-day grace period during which the company “may elect to make the interest payments and cure any potential non-payment claims,” NII said in a release.
The company is still in negotiations with holders of the senior notes to restructure the obligations involved.
Meanwhile, the operator sold its Chilean unit Nextel Chile to an international consortium of Argentine, UK and US investors. NII previously said that it is exploring a range of “potential strategic opportunities” which include selling the company.
Last week, NII’s share price plummeted following its announcement that it is likely to file a voluntary petition for relief under chapter 11 in the face of widening net losses and falling revenues.
Filing for chapter 11 would provide the operator with protection from creditors while it restructures its debt obligations.

 

The information presented and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CANTO and/or its members

CANTO Weekly Newsletter: These are the top stories trending in the ICT sector across the region this week, courtesy of @bnamericas : canto.org/blog/canto-wee… pic.twitter.com/U3X5fp1ze5

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