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Dehring nixes ReadyTV partnership - CWC okay with rival service

Published:Wednesday | May 18, 2016 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
Chris Dehring, chairman of Digital Interactive Services Limited.

Cable & Wireless Communications Plc on Monday put to rest any speculation of an uneasy rivalry with cable start-up ReadyTV, led by former CWC executive Christopher Dehring.

It comes as Liberty Global completed its acquisition and delisting of CWC this week in a deal valued at US$7.4 billion. The subsidiary Cable & Wireless companies in Jamaica and Barbados will remain listed in their respective markets.

Interim Chief Executive Officer of CWC John Reid says Dehring broke no agreements when he launched the rival operation. He also signalled that CWC was not averse to exploring a partnership with ReadyTV. The long-standing company brings 474,000 video customers to its merger with Liberty's regional subsidiary, LiLAC Group.

"I am quite aware of Chris' plans. He has been gone from the company for some time, so any non-compete clause would have expired," said Reid in response to Wednesday Business query at a conference call on Monday.

Last September, Dehring resigned his position as Cable & Wireless Jamaica chairman and a member of CWC's senior executive team. He served in that capacity for six years. Previous to that position, Dehring's track record included the co-founding of Jamaica's first investment bank, the Caribbean's first sports television channel, and a digital wireless cable TV company.


No partnership plans


Dehring disclosed his plans for ReadyTV to CWC before its launch.

"He told me about his plans and we are certainly aware of them," said Reid. "There may be opportunities to partner with Chris. I know his business model is a little different than ours and certainly the target market is different than ours and his product set," Reid said.

However, Dehring told Wednesday Business he has no plans to form partnerships, but was appreciative of the confidence that Reid's comments signalled.

"There are no immediate plans to partner with another entity at the moment. We are looking to be an independent provider. But I am happy to hear that from John," he said.

ReadyTV will seek to provide cable TV service to rural populaces not linked to existing providers. Many of the target customers are from working class households that also would find it difficult to pay for cable TV from traditional providers. The company plans to build a network using wireless technology versus the mainly fibre technology used by traditional big players.

"I know his business model is a little different than ours and certainly the target market is different than ours and his product set," said Reid. "I think we will continue to keep and grow our market share, and Chris might have his as well ... for us to focus on one operator in a very busy environment, I think, would take us away from what we do well and that's investing in people, assets and the products and services we feel will lead the market."

With CWC, LiLAC'S customer base grows to 10.049 million, spanning mobile and telephone, video, and broadband subscribers, 6.4 million of which CWC brought to the table. Total assets are valued at US$10.2 billion.

Liberty is projecting that the expanded LiLAC Group will generate around US$3.5 billion of revenue annually in 20 markets.

LiLAC trades on the Nasdaq Global Select Market as a tracking stock of Liberty Global.