Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Liberty pledges no further job cuts at C&W

Published:Friday | April 1, 2016 | 4:00 AM
The LIME offices on Half-Way Tree Road in Kingston, now rebranded FLOW.

Leading cable provider Liberty Global, acknowledging a 1,000 staff reduction during the nine months to December 2015 at Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), which operates regionally, has pledged to safeguard against further cuts when shareholders vote this month on whether to approve the company's offer to acquire the telecommunications outfit.

Liberty Global attaches "great importance" to the skills and experience of the existing management and employees of the CWC Group, stated the company in a document addressed to shareholders in late March.

CWC operates locally as Cable and Wireless Jamaica and trades as FLOW. It also operates in much of the anglophone Caribbean, Panama and Seychelles.

"Liberty Global has given assurances to the CWC directors that, upon and following completion of the offer, it intends to fully safeguard the existing employment and pension rights of all of the CWC Group's management and employees," the document said.

The combined group is expected to offer significant opportunities for employees in a business of greater size and scope, reasoned the cable provider, whose main market is in Europe.

Cable and Wireless Communications Plc cut 1,000 employees or about 12 per cent of its workforce based on synergies with its acquisition of Columbus Communications. CWC, headquartered in London, acquired Columbus Communications, a cable and Internet provider, on March 31, 2015 for some US$3 billion. A few months later, Liberty announced plans to acquire CWC for US$8.2 billion.

Liberty added that CWC continues to execute its Columbus integration plans from an organisational, network and product perspective. From a consumer perspective, the integration resulted thus far in new flagship stores which were opened in Barbados, Jamaica and St Kitts.

Training of new staff

"CWC is training new customer service agents for its new call centre in Jamaica, which is expected to open in the fourth quarter," said the advisory to shareholders. "Gross headcount reductions, in the nine months to 31 December 2015, totalled approximately 1,000. In-sourcing of the field operations workforce has been completed in Cayman, Barbados and Jamaica, and CWC plans to complete in-sourcing across the remainder of its Caribbean markets by the end of the current fiscal year," Liberty said.

It added that "the CWC Group is on track to achieve its synergy target of US$125 million on a run-rate basis by the end of 2017-18, with US$70 million of operating cost synergies to be achieved on a run-rate basis by the end of the current fiscal year (as stated in CWC's interim results announcement dated November 5, 2015)."

As at December 31, 2015, CWC had spent US$54 million of the anticipated US$110-million exceptional costs to achieve those synergies.

Liberty Global, according to information posted on its website, is the largest international cable company and is active in 14 countries, including 12 in Europe.

It said it is the leading operator in Europe and an established and growing player in Latin America and the Caribbean.

As at September 30, 2015, it posted revenue of $18.3 billion, employs 38,000 people and has 27 million customers, five million mobile subscribers and six million Wi-Fi access points.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com