Finally official in Fiji is the proposed sale by the Fiji government of its shares in FINTEL (Fiji International Telecommunications Ltd) to Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH).
The confirmation came from Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama when he delivered Fiji 2013 national budget last November. “We will sell government held shares in FINTEL to ATH to rationalise the ownership structure to ensure it results in better quality and affordable services in the telecommunications sector”, Bainimarama said, adding this would be part of the government’s corporatisation exercise this year.
When completed, the sale is expected to end years of difficulties in a shareholding structure that bounded the Fiji Government (51 percent), UK-headquartered Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC with 49 percent) and ATH, contracted to manage the Fiji Government’s shares in FINTEL.
ATH is listed on Fiji’s South Pacific Stock Exchange and majority owned by Fiji’s National Provident Fund. It recently bought CWC’s 49 percent in FINTEL for F$18.6 million, which brought some relief as the Fiji Government’s removal of exclusive licenses in 2008 had increased competition between FINTEL and Telecom Fiji Ltd (TFL), an ATH subsidiary.
Previously, the long distance carrier FINTEL had held exclusive license to provide international telecommunication services to and from Fiji, while TFL held an exclusive license to provide domestic telecommunications services, which it did through an extensive network of cable and wireless infrastructure.