Telecom New Zealand (TNZ) has entered into a conditional agreement to sell its 60 per cent stake in Telecom Cook Islands (TCI) to Digicel for $23 million.
According to strict local rules, those shares have to be offered to Cook Islanders for 30 days before the deal can go through.
TNZ started advertising the shares in early April and the deadline for Cook Islanders and Cook Islands enterprises to submit an expression of interest is May 10.
Richard Llewellyn, head of Corporate Communications for TNZ, said he could not disclose whether any offers have been made so far.
“The deadline for submissions of expressions of interest is not until the 10th of May, so it’s probably a bit early to comment.
Likewise, there was no comment from Paul Stafford – who is Chief Executive of Digicel Vanuatu and who would lead Digicel in the Cook Islands – on whether he knew of any emerging competitors.
“Digicel respects this part of the process and during this period, other bidders can submit their interest for TNZ’s consideration.”
Mervin Communications Director William Framhein, who has previously indicated a desire to buy the shares, would not confirm whether he is making a firm offer.
“I cannot make any more comment on TCI or what our plans are in terms of the TNZ shares in TCI.”
Anyone interested in buying the shares will have to meet a number of criteria set by TNZ.
As well as proving that they have the financial means, interested parties must also show “necessary experience” of owning and managing significant telecommunications assets and networks.
Telecommunications Minister Mark Brown has said there is nothing stopping a local consortium from making an offer.
“Telecom has told me they will have a look at serious offers that do come in and they will have to do due diligence.”