British telecom giant Cable & Wireless, which grew into a sort of telecom monopoly in the Caribbean region after it bought out Columbus International, has now been acquired by cable tycoon John Malone’s Liberty Global PLC.
The deal, valued at $5.3 billion, is likely to change the equation in Latin America’s telecom market dominated by Spain’s Telefonica and Carlos Slim’s America Movil. The acquisition is a “watershed moment” for LAC, as it “will add significant scale and management depth to our fast-growing operations in Latin America and the Caribbean,” according to Liberty Global chief executive Mike Fries.
Caribbean is a largely underpenetrated market. Moreover, Cable & Wireless’ sprawling network of undersea cables would allow Liberty Global to capitalize on rapidly increasing broadband data consumption in the region.
C&W’s subsea fibre optic cable network spans more than 42,000 km, the most extensive in the region, and the company also operates 38,000 km of terrestrial fibre providing wholesale and carrier backhaul capacity.
Cable & Wireless received more than half of its $1.75bn in revenue last year from Panama and the Caribbean, where it also provides data centre hosting, domestic and international managed network services, and customized IT service solutions, utilizing cloud technology to serve business and government customers.
“And by adding their strength and 1.5 million customers in Puerto Rico and Chile, backed by our strengths in adjoining markets and in leading submarine and terrestrial fibre networks, together we expect to grow our Consumer and B2B offers even faster,” stated Liberty Global in a press release.
Cable and Wireless operates under different brands in the region: LIME and Flow in the Caribbean; BTC in The Bahamas; Mas Movil in Panama. The combined company will have 10 million subscribers in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Liberty Global has been on an acquisition spree over the past few years. It swallowed the U.K.’s Virgin Media Inc. and Dutch cable operator Ziggo NV, making itself the largest cable operator in the world by subscribers, with 27 million customers across 14 countries.