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Horizon boss in talks over management buyout of firm

Gilbert "Artie" Darrell, the founder and chief executive of Horizon Communications (File photograph)

A question mark hangs over whether staff being let go at Horizon Communications will receive their redundancy and severance payments.

Gilbert “Artie” Darrell, the telecommunication firm’s founder who said he remains chief executive while it is under receivership by Teneo (Bermuda), told The Royal Gazette that he is seeking answers from the receivers.

Mr Darrell also said he has presented several options to Teneo for a management buyout that would keep Horizon locally owned and operated.

He confirmed that eight staff members had been made redundant and that ten have been retained.

Teneo said this week that payments owed to the employees “are claims made against the company and are not dealt with by the joint receivers.”

When asked for clarity on who is responsible from the company for the payments, Mr Darrell said: “Unfortunately, last week the receiver Teneo had decided to make redundant a number of staff at Horizon.

“I have reached out to the staff personally to support them as best as possible during this difficult time.

“As the company looks to restructure I have presented a few options for Teneo to consider that would not only save jobs but also allow Horizon to continue its growth.

“Regarding redundancies and severance, that is an active discussion we are having with the receiver and legally, so I cannot make a comment on that yet. That remains entirely with Teneo at this time. We are asking the same questions – it's something we're actively gaining clarity on.”

The firm provides high-speed internet access to business and domestic customers across the island.

Staff reductions have been made across all departments at Horizon but new customer installations was the area most dramatically affected, Mr Darrell said.

However, he added that the company continues to provide uninterrupted service and continues to take on new customers, saying the business has grown “significantly” over the past few months, particularly in the business sector.

Sources told The Royal Gazettethis week that while they had received notice of redundancy, they had not received their termination letters as yet. Mr Darrell said this was also a matter for Teneo.

Mr Darrell said he believes a management buyout would be the best option for the future of the company.

He said: “I have presented a number of options to the receiver for a management buyout of the company that would save jobs and allow the company continue on his growth trajectory. We are working with our partners, the government and the regulator to this effect.

“The option presented includes myself and a group of local Bermudians who would invest and move the company forward. It's still in discussion with Teneo but I believe it's by far the best option.

“Horizon has been, and would remain, a locally owned and operated business, with a network that is new and advanced.”

Horizon faced a funding challenge at beginning of the year when the Bermuda Infrastructure Fund, established in 2018, closed. The company is one of a few to benefit from the fund, managed by Fortress Investment Group.

Teneo came on board in January soon after the company said it expected to have to make staff redundant owing to difficulties securing a second round of funding.

The Royal Gazette reached out to Teneo for further comment but did not receive a response by press time.

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Published May 17, 2023 at 7:52 am (Updated May 17, 2023 at 7:31 am)

Horizon boss in talks over management buyout of firm

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