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Bahamas Seeks Majority Stake in New Cellular Company

Prime Minister Perry Christie (right) and Cellular Liberalization Task Force Board Member Rowena Bethel during a press conference on Wednesday. Photo: Ahvia J. Campbell

Prime Minister Perry Christie (right) and Cellular Liberalization Task Force Board Member Rowena Bethel. Photo: Caribbean News Now

NASSAU, Bahamas — The government wants Bahamians to own a majority stake in the new company created to offer cellular services in The Bahamas under a new license to be granted by April 2015, if all goes according to plan.

Prime Minister Perry Christie made the point last week when he announced the opening of the request for proposals (RFP) process, which he said is “designed to take into account the extent to which the widest base of Bahamians could participate in the ownership of the new provider.”

The company that wins the license will create a special-purpose entity, which will be granted an individual operating license and an individual spectrum license by the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA), after winning a multiround ascending spectrum auction.

“We anticipate… that the successful bidder would have done the best job of demonstrating that it would enable Bahamians to achieve majority equity ownership of the new cellular provider,” says the supporting documentation issued by the Office of The Prime Minister (OPM).

“This was of particular importance to me as prime minister, given my government’s pledge in our ‘Charter for Governance’ to expand the role of Bahamians as investors in our economy,” Christie said. “My government is passionately committed to ensuring that all Bahamians benefit from the economic fruit of the country and not just a select few.”

The prime minister noted that the Cellular Liberalization Task Force (CLTF) has gone to great lengths to ensure that the proposed ownership arrangement has adequately balanced the competing priorities of The Bahamas’ international trade commitments and negotiating positions — such as those under the European Partnership Agreement and the ongoing World Trade Organization negotiations — with a commercially attractive investment proposition to potential investors and the long-term best interest of the Bahamian people.

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