CANTO Weekly Newsletter – BNamericas
Thursday, May 17, 2018
Dominican Republic halts AWS spectrum tender – Dominican R.
The Dominican Republic has halted a tender for Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum in order to look into allegations that one company already owns the rights to operate those frequencies, telecoms regulator Indotel said in a statement.
Indotel announced last week that Viva, the smallest mobile operator in the country with around 6% of lines, had been the sole bidder in the process with a US$30mn offer for 30MHz of spectrum.
The AWS band, which uses paired blocks of frequencies in the 1.7GHz and 2.1GHz spectrum bands, is used in most of Latin America for the deployment of 3G mobile data services.
Local company Satel had objected to the tender since November 2017, arguing that it was the owner of the rights to use those frequencies nationwide, Indotel said.
Indotel’s directorate “needs to closely examine both parties’ arguments to act cautiously and in line with proper procedure,” said the president of the regulator, Luis Henry Molina.
Liberty Latin America replicating European model for new acquisitions – Regional
Chilean cable operator VTR will take on an administrative role in overseeing the future acquisitions of its parent company Liberty Latin America, including the already announced purchase of Cabletica in Costa Rica, replicating the model of its former parent, Liberty Global, in Europe.
Liberty Latin America, which consists of VTR, Cable & Wireless Communications and Liberty Puerto Rico, split off in January from Liberty Global and has said it is actively seeking an inorganic growth strategy to better position itself in the region.
The first acquisition, of 80% of Cabletica for approximately US$250mn from the Picado family, was announced in February and is still awaiting final approval in June or July.
Cabletica provides triple play services to residential customers. As of September 30, 2017, Cabletica served 207,000 customers. The company’s hybrid fiber-coaxial network covers nearly 40% of homes in Costa Rica.
VTR provides average speeds of 109Mbps, while Cabletica’s speeds average 7Mbps.
The Denver-based company is imagining three clusters of growth for its three operations with VTR focusing on the Southern Cone but also parts of Central America, while CWC will focus more on the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. However, this is yet to be defined, VTR CEO Guillermo Ponce told journalists over the weekend,
“What is first going to happen is that there will be an administrative center of operations for other countries,” Ponce told BNamericas.
“We want to replicate the model that we have in Europe, where you have a local manager, but also a center of operations for several countries.”
Ponce said that it was not yet clear where different corporate functions for the different clusters would be located.
“It’s not clear where we will have the legal heads or those in charge of innovation. A lot will depend on the talent and where they want to live.
“Liberty is open in the sense that it doesn’t impose geographical limitations on its employees, though there could be financial or tax reasons for locating certain parts of the business. We are analyzing that now, but it’s most likely that Chile will direct the southern cone and parts of Central America.”
In terms of financing, Ponce said that Liberty always deals with its acquisitions with a balance of debt and equity, though how they deal with each acquisition would depend on a case-by-case scenario, such as size, for example.
In its 1Q18 results, Liberty Latin America said it has preapproved financing of U$160mn, which it hinted could be used for purposes such as acquisitions.
“When our Q1 compliance reporting requirements have been completed, and assuming no changes from March 31, 2018 borrowing levels, we anticipate that the full amount of our unused commitments will be available to be drawn,” the company said.
Ponce said that the company was studying the possible introduction in the Southern Cone of the B2B corporate business that CWC operates with its submarine cable and datacenter network.
“Everything is under analysis,” he said.
Blockchain Watch: HSBC trade transaction, CARICOM launches nodes – Regional
HSBC has carried out a blockchain-based trade transaction to process a shipment of soybeans from Argentina to Malaysia, made by US conglomerate Cargill in collaboration with ING Bank NV, reflecting the emergent use of the industry-transforming technology, moving it from hype to reality.
The transaction is one of the first to invoke blockchain technology in an international trade operation; Spain’s BBVA ran a pilot operation utilizing Wave’s distributed ledger technology (DLT) on a blockchain platform in November for an trade operation between Mexico and Spain.
In a statement, HSBC said the transaction, made through a letter of credit, demonstrated the commercial and operational viability of blockchain DLT technology. Carried out fully within a 24-hour time frame, the deal also shows the considerable time advantage provided by the system over traditional processes.
“This means that financial business transactions can be simpler, easier, more transparent and safer for businesses. The need to review physical documents becomes unnecessary because all the parts are linked in the platform and the updates are instantaneous. This means faster access for companies to liquidity,” said Vivek Ramachandran, HSBC’s global head of innovation and growth for commercial banking. “This is an inflection point for how trade is conducted.”
The transaction was carried out on R3’s Corda DLT platform and involved a shipment of soybeans from Argentina (through the commercial arm of Cargill in Geneva) to Malaysia through the subsidiary of Cargill in Singapore, acting as buyer. HSBC issued a letter of credit to ING through a platform based on DLT. The two banks, HSBC as the issuer, and ING as the beneficiary’s bank, acted on behalf of the Cargill companies.
Caribbean blockchain nodes launched
In an effort to build digital payment and digital financial infrastructures for international trade, a new platform known as CariNet – the Caribbean Digital Finance and Free Trade System – has been officially launched, a blockchain network devised to facilitate transactions between the 15 CARICOM member nations.
CARICOM’s 15 full members include: Antigua and Barbuda; Barbados; Belize; Guyana; Trinidad and Tobago; Dominica; Grenada; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Suriname; Jamaica; Montserrat; Haiti; and the Bahamas.
“To meet the security demand of digital payment and financial systems, the CariNet Main Net plans to introduce national nodes to supervise the whole blockchain network in order to develop in a credible and orderly direction,” read the announcement. “The national node supervision mechanism is not only of milestone significance for the development of the blockchain industry but also a great progress to push blockchain technology into the practical application stage.”
The 15 national nodes will be expected to monitor all transactions that occur in the clearing system and receive real-time transparent transaction data to avoid the use of the blockchain digital payment systems for illegal transactions.
“Blockchain technology was considered to be the cornerstone of the next-generation value Internet as it entered the public eyes. But the brutal growth of the market also spawned a lot of negative effects, such as Bitcoin utilization in the black market, money laundering, terrorism and other crimes,” continued the statement. “It has become the consensus of all parties to introduce the supervision mechanism to guide the development of blockchain technology.”
The first phase of implementation for CariNet would be to establish digital payment infrastructures between CARICOM nations, including mobile terminal payment software and ATMs, as well as address the lack of local electronic payment systems.
“Subsequently, CariNet will assist countries to build digital financial infrastructures to help the world’s largest traditional offshore financial center to complete the transition under the digital financial wave of the blockchain.”
Liberty Latam eyeing M&A in 2018 – Regional
Guillermo Ponce (pictured), CEO of Chilean unit VTR, told journalists that the strategy is to build out three regional clusters through acquisitions to complement the operations of Cable & Wireless Communications and Liberty Puerto Rico, as well as VTR in the Southern Cone.
The executive would not go into detail of which countries or types of companies were being looked at, but said that everything was on the table.
Cable operators would be the most similar fit for VTR and Liberty Puerto Rico, though VTR has a small MVNO mobile business, while CWC has a more diversified focus of mobile, fixed line, corporate services and international communication with an extensive submarine network.
Ponce said that the company’s aim is to take advantage of synergies among the three units.
In February, LLA made its first acquisition, buying 80% of Costa Rican cable operator Cabletica, which has an enterprise value of US$250mn.
In terms of financing, Ponce said that LLA has pre-approved credit lines.
Another company that could challenge Liberty as a third regional player is Millicom, an operator with mobile, fixed line, cable and TV infrastructure in Central America, Colombia, Paraguay and Bolivia.
In 1Q18, Liberty Latin America posted a 3.5% drop in revenue in Q1 to US$910mn, as gains in VTR could not offset losses from the CWC and Liberty Puerto Rico units due to damage from hurricanes Irma and María.
LLA said Liberty Puerto Rico revenues fell US$45mn in the first quarter. Chile’s VTR saw 15% growth in revenues to US$264mn.
Ponce added that Chile was due to become a regional innovation hub as well as a cluster of companies for the Southern Cone.
The company is eyeing emerging technology trends such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to introduce new products and services. It has already implemented the Mercury router, which uses beam forming to aim and cover blind spots like balconies and reduce interference from neighboring networks. VTR is piloting “pods” that use machine learning to identify and recommend the areas of a home which require the most bandwidth.
The average bandwidth contracted by VTR customers is 109Mbps. Some 46% of those are using Mercury routers.
The company has an alliance with Netflix and sees itself continuing to cooperate with over-the-top players.
ICT Tenders: Honduras, Trinidad & Tobago – Honduras, Trinidad & Tobago
The government of Honduras is seeking ICT equipment for educational centers as part of a social program financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Equipment sought includes 799 portable computers and 57 datashows. The delivery of the products must be made 45 to 60 days after the signing the contract.
Specifications and other product requirements and tender terms can be found on the Honduran procurement website.
Interested companies may obtain a complete set of bidding documents in Spanish, without cost, by submitting a written request to the address indicated below.
Offers must be sent to the same address indicated by no later than 10am (local time) on June 28. Electronic offers will not be accepted.
Subsecretaría de Integración Social (SSIS)
Unidad Coordinadora de Proyectos (UCP), Dirección Bulevar Kuwait, Edificio los Halcones, 4 piso, UCP, Tegucigalpa M.D.C.
To: Alberto Sierra/Coordinador General UCP/SSIS
Reference: “Adquisición de Equipo de Informática para Centros Educativos del Proyecto de Ampliación del Tercer Ciclo”
LPI/002/SSIS/BID/3371/2018 (ID SEPA 425).
Trinidad & Tobago is looking for archivist services as part of a program to streamline and digitize information management at the registrar general’s department (RGD).
The department, linked to the ministry of the attorney general and legal affairs (MAGLA), is responsible for the registration, dissemination and preservation of property held in the country.
The central tenders board (CTB) invites eligible individuals to express interest in providing the services by submitting cover letter and curriculum vitae. Contract is valid for 9 months.
Envelopes must be sent to the address below and deposited in a brown tender box located at the lobby of the Board’s Office below 1pm (Local Time) on June 7. Further information can be obtained by writing to email@example.com
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