The Government has announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with [Cable & Wireless Communications ]( for the sale of a 51% interest in the [Bahamas Telecommunications Company]( (BTC).

CWC is a global, full-service communications company which operates leading communications businesses through four regional units – the Caribbean, Panama, Macau and Monaco & Islands. Its services include mobile, broadband and domestic and international fixed line services in most of its markets as well as pay-TV, data centre and hosting, carrier and managed service solutions. CWC is a FTSE 250 communications company with $2.5 billion revenues, operating in 37 countries in Landline, Mobile, Broadband and Entertainment (13 of which are in the Caribbean). It has 8.3 million mobile, 1.8 million fixed line and 600,000 broadband customers. CWC has been in the telecoms business for 140 years, and is a trade buyer with a long term strategy and interest. CWC is expected to bring synergies to BTC in terms of procurement savings, administration savings, IT implementation and support, network operations support and others.

According to the release, the CWC and the Government will work together to finalize contractual terms and obtain necessary consents and other regulatory clearances in order to complete the transaction in the first quarter of 2011.

CWC proposes to work with the Government and the management of BTC to finalize a business plan for BTC, addressing its plans for the modernization of telecommunications throughout The Bahamas, for the development of BTC following privatization, and how service rates charged to Bahamian consumers could be reduced the period leading up to the liberalization of cellular services. It is also the intention under the MOU that BTC will become a significant part of CWC’s Caribbean business and strategy, that there continues to be substantial Bahamian participation in the management of the company, and that CWC affords Bahamians meaningful opportunities to work within CWC’s regional operations. It is expected that being part of a telecoms group such as CWC will create a variety of opportunities for Bahamians to succeed in a global organization.

As a result of the privatization of BTC and liberalization of the cellular market, it is expected that consumers will benefit from more affordable access to higher quality services across all regions of The Bahamas. As a result of improved communications services, The Bahamas is also likely to become more competitive as a business and tourism destination.

A privatized BTC can be expected to continue a policy of outsourcing non-core functions, thereby supporting the large and growing small business community which depends heavily on BTC today. It is expected that there will be a significant degree of new entrepreneurial opportunity available to Bahamians as a result of the privatization of BTC, and liberalization of the market.