Sun | Oct 21, 2018

Garfield Sinclair deployed to Bahamas on a mission to grow BTC

Published:Sunday | August 12, 2018 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
Sinclair

Garfield Sinclair joined the embattled Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) this month with an explicit mission to grow revenues in the affluent Caribbean territory.

BTC owner Liberty is attempting to turn around the telecom amid rising competition from Aliv and Cable The Bahamas in a liberalised market. BTC is a sister operation to Flow, whose country operation in Jamaica was headed by Sinclair up to last year.

"Garry has the track record of creating value in the top line, so Garry is coming into Bahamas and will take over and focus on the top line," said Liberty Latin America CEO Balan Nair on a conference call on Thursday.

"We feel good about it, but it is still too early to say too much about it at this time. Check back in two quarters," he said.

BTC is currently earning annual revenue of US$260 million. The telecom is reportedly on its fifth CEO since liberalisation of the mobile market in The Bahamas.

The rapid turnover of CEOs mimics a pattern that Jamaica went through prior to the appointment of Sinclair as managing director. He held the position for seven years before deployment to Miami last year, where he oversaw 15 markets as president of CWC Caribbean.

Sinclair's appointment at BTC took effect on August 1. He reports to CWC CEO Inge Smidts.

 

COST STRUCTURE

 

"On the BTC management side, we made a big change last year. We brought in a team that really focused on the cost structure, and I think they did a

really good job in the improvement in expansion of margins and the bottom line," said Nair.

That rescue team was redeployed in the group upon Sinclair's appointment, he said.

"We have now gone into the second phase of BTC," said Nair. "Now, we are bringing in another team in there with a different mission, which is the top line growth mission."

Cable Bahamas, whose preference stock is listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, last reported nine-month revenue of BAH$165 million at March 2018, up 14.5 per cent year on year.

Meanwhile, Liberty's year end December 2017 results cited a decrease in mobile subscription revenue primarily due to falling subscriptions in The Bahamas. The territory's decline was primarily driven by the commercial launch of mobile services by a competitor during the fourth quarter of 2016. That competitor was Aliv. Consequently, Liberty posted a US$13.6 million impairment for BTC.

Sinclair's deployment to BTC was welcomed by managing partner of Portland Private Equity Robert Almeida, who described it as an important move by Liberty, which recognises Sinclair's value.

"So Bahamas is a very important business for Liberty, and Garry's appointment is not a demotion, but a recognition of his value to go fight the fight," said Almeida. Portland holds investments in Liberty.

Sinclair is a former investment banker-turned-telecom executive. During his tenure as CEO of Cable & Wireless Jamaica, which trades as Flow, he transformed the operations and grew the mobile subscriber base to one million.

Sinclair, who is the son of famed Hollywood actress Madge Sinclair, initially made his name as president of Dehring Bunting & Golding Limited, the pioneer investment bank in Jamaica that was eventually sold to Scotia Group Jamaica.

This story first appeared online at jamaica-gleaner.com/business.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com