Digicel ok with competition, says Brown

Friday February 14, 2014 Written by Published in Technology
Finance Minister Mark Brown. 12082514 Finance Minister Mark Brown. 12082514

Digicel, the global telecom company interested in becoming the majority shareholder of Telecom Cook Islands - is aware of the Government’s intentions to open the market to competition, said Finance Minister Mark Brown.

Brown said the Government is planning to introduce new legislation this year that will remove the current monopoly operating in the Cook Islands.

“They are quite comfortable with that,” he said.

The legislation has the potential to drastically alter the regulatory environment by allowing competition in what is currently a protective regulatory environment.

Outlined in the upcoming bill will be a pre-determined fee that an entity wishing to compete in the local industry would have to pay to access the existing network.

Brown has indicated Digicel is interested in purchasing Telecom New Zealand’s 60 per cent stake in TCI, and on Thursday, he said the company is also eyeing the government’s 40 per cent stake.

The finance minister said the government has no interest in becoming sole owner of TCI and would waive its first right to pick up TNZ’s stake in TCI, pre-empting any potential acquisition by Digicel.

His position has drawn considerable criticism from members of the public with some saying the latest developments provide a lucrative opportunity for local investors and the government.

“People have to take the emotion out of it,” said Brown, saying the telecommunications industry has been drastically altered over the past decade.

“For me, it doesn’t make sense to spend money to own that company.”

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