The sale price has been declared as £158.5 million. The expected date of the sale is no later than 30 June. The company has given the IOM Communications Commission the required 30 days notice under its licence obligation and briefed the IOM Government on the transaction. The buyers represent a partnership between Hg Capital, a private equity investor, and CPS Partners, a management company with experience in the telecommunications sector around the world.
The sudden nature of the announcement comes as a shock to Prospect members in Manx Telecom, and the union has complained strongly to Telefonica about the secrecy and absence of consultation surrounding the exercise.
Prospect has had initial contact with Hg Capital, which has stressed its intention to grow the business, building on a strong foundation. It said it has no plans for restructuring or redundancies and the current Ops Board will be strengthened rather than supplanted.
Although the timetable for consultation is clearly rushed, the fact that the sale is by means of a share transfer simplifies arrangements regarding contractual issues. All current terms and conditions will transfer in full, except where there is a specific legal link to Telefonica, such as share plan. The Manx Telecom Pension Scheme will remain in place and Hg Capital has undertaken to preserve and support the current pension arrangements negotiated last year. Hg Capital has already met with the Trustee.
Further discussions with Hg Capital will be taking place in the coming days and weeks and members will be kept informed of progress by Tony Quayle and myself. We will be making arrangements for a members meetings with me in the next week or two.
Changes like this are unsettling, and the way in which the sale has been conducted reflects badly on Telefonica. However, members in Manx Telecom have proved equal to significant change in the past, and I am confident that we will be able to forge a positive and productive relationship with the new owners through the existing senior management team. In the meantime please look out for updates.