SOLOMON Telekom Company Limited is now a 100-percent locally owned company.
This came following the signing ceremony to mark the transfer of 32.58 percent shares held by Cable and Wireless Company (CWC) to Solomon Islands National Provident Fund (SINPF) on Wednesday in Honiara.
SINPF paid off the shares from CWC for a total of SBD$100 million (US16.5m).
SINPF board chairmen Baoro Koraua said the fund will now own 97.32 percent in Solomon Telekom with the remaining 2.68 percent shares held by the Investment Corporation of Solomon Islands (ICSI).
Koraua said the purchase was made after CWC shifted its business interest from the pacific to the Caribbean region therefore decide to sell its shares.
“CWC has now divested its interest in the Pacific region. Therefore by having NPF owning majority shares in Solomon Telekom, we can pick and choose who to sell the shares to,” Koraua said.
He said there are some buyers who have already indicated their interest to purchase the shares.
However, he said the board will have to critically look at these interested investors to select the best one that have the same interests to participate accordingly in the development of telecommunication in the country.
Mr Koraua said although the board is yet to decide on the amount of shares to sell to the interested investor, the most important thing is to choose who to sell the shares to.
“This will ensure that company remains competitive in the market and continue to grow its services and business while meeting national targets of opening rural areas to better communication,” Koraua added.
The chair stressed that Solomon Telekom is the full incumbent telecom operator in the country providing mobile, fixed voice and broadband services.
Over the past years, Cable and Wireless has been benefiting a lot in dividend payments despite contributing very little in terms of technical and manpower into Telekom’s operation in the country, it was highlighted.
Thus the purchase of shares from CWC has been seen by the board as a positive step forward to ensure fund members get maximum benefits from their contributions.
The purchase of shares was made possible through the Caretaker Minster of Finance’s (Rick Hou) approval.
Although consent was given by the Central Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI) for the NPF board to purchase the shares, it was given on the condition that the shares are sold within an 18 months period.
Solomon Telekom has been one of the most profitable companies owned by SINPF over the years which accounted for 32 percent of the Fund’s cash income dividend last year.
SINPF’s other major subsidiaries include South Pacific Oil Ltd (100%), Solomon oceanic Cable Company ltd(51%), Solomon Islands Home Finance(100%), Soltuna Ltd (32.1%), Heritage Park Hotel Ltd (10%) and Sasape International Shipyard ltd (25%).
By DANIEL NAMOSUAIA