Two local consortiums which have made offers say they are waiting to find out what happens next, now that the period for expressions of interest has closed.
Telecom NZ has entered into a conditional agreement to sell its majority stake to Digicel for $23 million, but Cook Islanders had until yesterday to make a rival bid.
Richard Llewellyn, Telecom NZ’s Head of Corporate Communications, would not say exactly how many Cook Islands parties have thrown their hat in the ring.
“Telecom has received several expressions of interest, however we are not at liberty to disclose the details of these. An assessment process is ongoing, and we will advise details of this in due course.”
Tim Arnold, Telecom NZ’s legal representative in Rarotonga, said he was unable to comment.
“There have been a number of expressions of local interest but as to the process now, I’d be going way beyond my brief to say anything,” he said.
One group known to have made an offer is being led by local businessman Brian Baudinet, and includes Telecom Cook Islands’ (TCI) executive management team, and foreign company Bluesky.
Baudinet said his group investors are “twiddling their thumbs” waiting for information.
“We’ve been in the dark for weeks. We put in our expression of interest in May and since then we’ve heard nothing.”
He said the investors have signed a non-disclosure agreement, which means they cannot share any details about who is in the group.
Baudinet did say he is in discussions with Mike Tavioni, who has created a proposal to get Cook Islanders to invest $1000 each for an equal share in TCI.
“He hasn’t come in with us yet. We’re talking about that and are quite happy to have him join us.”
Baudinet is not sure if and when Telecom NZ will decide whether his group can carry out due diligence of Telecom Cook Islands.
“That’s what we don’t know. They’ve not given us a time frame.”
The other group known to have made an offer is being led by local businessman William Framhein and involves investment from an overseas telecommunications company.
Like Baudinet, Framhein said he doesn’t know what the next step is and he is waiting to hear from Telecom NZ.
“It’s a wait and see situation.”