TBi seeks control of cable TV provider WoW
TeleBermuda International Limited has emerged as a prospective purchaser of cable television provider World on Wireless.
TBi’s pole position to take over WoW was revealed by the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda, which has launched a public consultation concerning the proposed purchase.
The RA said it has received an application from TBi, which seeks to obtain control of WoW through the purchase of the wireless subscription-based television business of WoW and related assets — and including its integrated communications operating licence and associated spectrum licence.
It said the purchase of the business is conditional on the RA granting its consent to the change in control.
TBi, which also holds an ICOL, provides long-distance voice, data, internet, television and co-location hosting services.
The RA said TBi has since December “provided significant funding to WoW to maintain the business as a going concern”.
It added: “Without TBi’s funding, the business would cease. This would harm the customers of the business, result in WoW’s employees being made redundant and severely impact any recovery by WoW’s creditors.”
The regulator said TBi “notes that it cannot be expected to finance the business for a significant further period without any degree of certainty that it will acquire the business”.
As part of the notification of a change of control process, the RA said, both WoW and TBi submitted information regarding their financial positions.
The RA said it is investigating whether TBi has the “financial capacity in place to acquire the business and assets of WoW and make the investments in TBi’s services, allowing it to increase its profile and television offering”.
TBi was purchased in 2017 by Bermudian companies East End Group and Celeritas Limited, the latter of which is a telecommunication investment firm and a subsidiary of the Mayfair Group.
The RA said Celeritas, which has a 75 per cent ownership interest in TBi, has provided “commitments of funding to TBi to assist and enable the company to secure, safeguard and grow the business of WoW”.
The regulator added that the financial position of Mayfair “does provide some assurance over the funding of the purchase of WoW and the potential for support in terms of future capital investment”.
The RA said WoW “has not made any profit for some time and is generally considered to be unsustainable in its current form”.
WoW is in the midst of winding-up proceedings in the Supreme Court of Bermuda.
Puisne Judge Larry Mussenden on Friday adjourned the matter until May 6 after hearing representations from lawyer Kyle Masters, of Carey Olsen, representing WoW.
A previous adjournment was granted to allow time for a sale of the business to be agreed.
The cable television outfit has remained open for trading while its court-appointed joint provisional liquidators — Michael Morrison and Charles Thresh, of KPMG Advisory Limited — explored whether a sale of all or part of the business as a going concern would be possible.
The RA said the JPLs identified TBi “as a preferred bidder for WoW’s business and assets”.
It added: “Based on representations made to the RA, TBi’s bid was assessed and evaluated as the offer best aimed at allowing WoW’s business to continue and facilitating continuity of services to its customers”.
The RA said TBi’s proposed acquisition of the business will provide it with access to WoW’s 1,200-strong subscriber base, which will provide what TBi regards as critical mass to its own subscription television services business and allow it to invest in this business.
The regulator said the purchase would promote competition in the island’s TV subscription market as well as internet services marketplace.
If the deal goes through, TBi also expects to be able to provide more “bundled” TV, internet and telephone services, the RA said.
The regulator added that TBi “will further offer employment to certain of WoW’s employees thereby limiting redundancies which may otherwise occur if WoW were to cease trading”.
It added that TBi would increase its staff should the transaction complete.
The RA said it “invites comments from members of the public, electronic communications sectoral participants and sectoral providers, and other interested parties”.
Anyone wishing to comment on the proposed purchase must do so before 11.59pm on Friday.
The RA said it tentatively plans to issue a final order in the matter “by the end of March or beginning of April”.