Sep 23, 2020 Last Updated 9:19 PM, Sep 22, 2020

A new deal could potentially provide more Pacific Island countries access to affordable Internet via submarine telecom cable. 

The multi-million dollar deal was jointly announced in New Zealand last week by its signatories Hawaiki Submarine Cable LP, American Samoa Telecommunications Authority (ASTCA) and American Samoa Hawaii Cable LLC (ASH). 

The three parties have direct interests in the newly installed Hawaiki Transpacific cable system which began commercial operations last year and links Australia and New Zealand to Hawaii (branching into American Samoa along the way) then to the U.S. mainland.    

“The multi-million dollar deal announced today brings three operators together to take advantage of the Hawaiki branch to American Samoa, securing trans-Pacific connectivity into the future and providing critical diversity to help drive ASH’s wholesale business and deliver fast, reliable international broadband to local operators and ISPs in American Samoa, Samoa, French Polynesia and other nations and territories,” the parties announced in a joint statement.

“ASH, jointly owned by Fiji’s ATH Group and the American Samoa Government, owns the Samoa to American Samoa (SAS) cable and allows Hawaiki bandwidth and circuits to reach beyond American Samoa to Samoa and all interconnected points, including French Polynesia, Cook Islands, and Niue (via the soon-to-be-RFS Manatua cable), as well as Fiji and Wallis and Futuna (via the Tui Cable, commissioned in 2018).”

ASTCA, a state-owned telecom in American Samoa, owns the 400km subsea branch that connects the Hawaiki trunk to the U.S. territory while Hawaiki Submarine Cable LP owns the cable system.

The Hawaiki cable system is 15,000km long, has a 67Terabit per second capacity, is carrier-neutral and includes stubbed branching units to allow potential future connections to New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga.

Hawaiki CEO Remi Galasso described the agreement as an important milestone for communications in the South Pacific, forming the basis for future collaborations between the company and the growing number of carriers servicing the region.

“Bridging the digital divide in the Pacific is something that has been part of Hawaiki’s DNA from the beginning. In these challenging times, communications infrastructure and reliable connectivity have an even more critical role to play in supporting the continuity and development of businesses and communities in regions that have traditionally been underserved,” he said.

Shareholders in Fiji’s biggest telecom conglomerate are being offered more shares for cash.

Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH), which owns all major telecom carriers in Fiji except Digicel Fiji, is listed on the South Pacific Stock Exchange (SPX) and announced this week a 1 share for 6.66 rights issue, at a discount price of F$2 (US$.88) per share.

ATH currently trades at F$2.40 per share, so eligible shareholders who take up the offer will enjoy a 40 cents per share discount (17 per cent), although the end result will see a general dilution of shares as over 63 million new ATH shares will be issued in a bid to raise F$126.76million (US$55.89million).

ATH currently has over 422 million issued shares. 

In the Offer Document for the rights issue, company chairman Ajith Kodagoda said funds raised will be used to recapitalise ATH’s balance sheet by “repaying borrowings, providing funding for capital investments and for general corporate and working capital purposes” and provide the company with financial flexibility. 

Details also reveal that F$100million raised will go towards capital investments while F$26.76million will be working capital. 

ATH is majority owned by the Fiji National Provident Fund (72.2 per cent) and the Fiji Government (17.2 per cent) with the rest held by over 1000 individuals, companies and trust funds in Fiji and the Pacific, including the Samoa National Provident Fund. 

The ATH rights issue will take place between May 18th and June 18th

 

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