AN island telephone and broadband provider is being sold to a telecommunications company in the Middle East.
Cable and Wireless, which owns the Sure brand, is selling its business in the Isle of Man, Seychelles and Channel Islands as well as in the South Atlantic and Diego Garcia to Bahrain telecommunications company Batelco for 680 million US dollars (about £420m).
Cable and Wireless Isle of Man chief executive Andy Bridson said he was pleased to be joining Batelco, which he said was committed to developing the business in the Isle of Man.
‘The business that has acquired us is the incumbent in Bahrain and also operates in Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt.
‘Their turnover is just under one billion dollars and they have been looking for an acquisition further west.
‘The businesses are not unlike each other and their view is it is a long-term investment,’ he said. ‘I met them in May-June time and we want to be part of them.
‘The Sure brand will stay. Under Cable and Wireless they have invested £30m and brought competition to the island and with Batelco it will be more of the same but faster. The government has been looking to build relations in the Middle East and Far East.
‘It is good for the consumer and good for the island’s economy but not so good for our competition.
‘If anything we will grow over the next three years maybe expanding to 30 more jobs. They certainly are not looking to asset strip then sell off.
‘We will certainly benefit from its partnerships and relationships, retaining a very global dimension to our business.’
For the past five years Sure has been involved in sponsoring the TT races and Mr Bridson said he was keen for this to continue: ‘We want to continue because we love to be involved,’ he said.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Isa Al Khalifa, Batelco group chief executive, said: ‘The CWC Isle of Man and Channel Islands region is a well-managed business that we want to invest in. Batelco is in the process of building a telecoms business of global relevance of which the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man will be an important part. We are looking forward to supporting each of the businesses and contributing to the communities they operate in.’
Cable and Wireless chief executive Tony Rice said Batelco would be an excellent owner for the business.
The businesses included in the transaction serve a combined 752,000 mobile, fixed, broadband and TV customers.
The deal is expected to be concluded by next March or earlier.
Mr Bridson added: ‘The big message for the Isle of Man is it will be seamless: services continue to improve and the new relationship will be great for the Isle of Man.’
Cable and Wireless also has a 55 per cent shareholding in Monaco Telecom, one quarter of which will go to Batelco.