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Cable and Wireless enters three new markets with Panama acquisition

Published:Friday | August 29, 2014 | 8:00 AM

Cable and Wireless Communications Plc (CWC) is entering three new markets and deepening its business in Panama via its acquisition of Grupo Sonitel, an IT and telecoms business.

CWC, a telecoms company which operates as LIME in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries, announced earlier this week that it had acquired the Panama-based Grupo Sonitel for US$36 million. There is an additional contingent consideration of up to US$5 million more.

The purchase was made through the CWC subsidiary Cable & Wireless Panama, S.A. (CWP) and includes two Grupo Sonitel companies - SSA Sistema and Sonset.

SSA Sistemas is a provider of end-to-end managed IT solutions and telecoms services to business and government customers in Panama. The acquisition also allows CWC to enter the business-to-business (B2B) markets in El Salvador, Peru and Nicaragua.

Sonset is a provider of IT solutions and services to small- and medium-enterprise customers in Panama.

The purchase does not include non-core Grupo Sonitel companies, such as Logistica, which is an IT hardware reseller.

"This transaction is in line with the strategy we outlined in May to grow our business (B2B) and government (B2G) capabilities," Phil Bentley, CEO of CWC, said in a news release.

"Adding more than 350 IT software and telecoms service engineers to our team will considerably boost our capabilities in this field," he said.

Julio Speigel F., who has worked with Grupo Sonitel for 20 years and serves as executive vice-president, is to continue to lead the business.

"With our customers and team in mind, joining Cable and Wireless Communications was the best choice to secure the future of Grupo Sonitel," said Julio Spiegel R., who is president of Grupo Sonitel and has worked at the company for 44 years.

"By bringing together CWC's communications and network capabilities with Grupo Sonitel's hosted solutions and IT expertise, we will be able to deliver an unbeatable offer to our customers," he said in the statement.

Grupo Sonitel was established in 1957 and employs more than 350 people. Its vendor certifications include being a Cisco Gold Partner, Oracle Platinum Partner, VMWare Enterprise Partner, and HP Platinum Partner.

For the year ended December 31, 2013, the businesses included in the CWC transaction had revenues of US$77 million from continuing operations.

Cable & Wireless Panama is jointly owned by Cable & Wireless Communications, 49 per cent, and the Government of the Republic of Panama, 49 per cent. The other two per cent is held in trust on behalf of the employees. CWC has both management and board control.

Outside of fixed, mobile and broadband services in Panama, CWP is also a major supplier of pay TV and enterprise services.