Published On: Wed, Feb 6th, 2019

“Keeping Cable TV staff would have been detrimental to TelEm”

TelEM presentation to Parliament 05 Feb 2019

PHILIPSBURG – The central committee of parliament devoted a bit more than an hour to the continuation of a meeting that was held exactly a year ago on Tuesday. Topic of the meeting was the purchase of Cable TV by telecom provider TelEm and the subsequent dismissal of Cable TV personnel.

To the chagrin of MP Frans Richardson (United St. Maarten party) only Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin showed up as the shareholder representative for TelEm. Richardson would have wanted to see the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication, Stuart Johnson, in this meeting as well.

Romeo-Marlin told the central committee that TelEm’s interest in Cable TV was about its underground coax infrastructure and not about its personnel. “TelEm wanted to buy the assets, not the staff.”

The coaxial cable network runs through underground pipes that TelEm wants to use to blow fiber optic cable to homes and offices in the context of its fiber to the home project. It eliminates the need for additional trenching.

Romeo-Marlin said that Cable TV refused to sell its assets only: TelEm had to buy the whole company. The shareholder – the government – did not oppose the acquisition.

“The main argument for the acquisition was to prevent a large international company coming onto the market. That could have resulted in the closure of TelEm,” Romeo-Marlin said.

TelEm purchased Cable TV for 4.5 million; it remains unclear whether this is a guilder- or a dollar amount.

The prime minister said that Cable TV had been a loss making company during the four years (2013-2017) prior to its acquisition by TelEm. “Keeping the Cable TV employees on the payroll would have been detrimental to TelEm,” Romeo-Marlin said.

TelEm’s management team – CEO Kendall Dupersoy, CFO Helma Etnel and CTO Eldert Louisa were present in the meeting. Though they would have needed just about an hour to answer questions from MPs, the meeting was adjourned to a later date because the central committee had another meeting waiting – the one about the state of affairs at utilities company Gebe.