Channel 7 – Will GOB Nationalize BTL?

Original Story

Will the government nationalize BTL? That’s the course of action suggested by an Amandala editorial yesterday. And while newspaper editorials don’t set government policy, our information suggests that this one was more than just a shot in the dark, it was more like a trial balloon for an idea that’s gaining some currency in government circles. Speaking with Prime Minister Dean Barrow by telephone today, he was decidedly non committal, saying that as regards the BTL impasse, his government is, “looking at all options” and “what they’ve raised (in the Amandala editorial) is not excluded.”

It would be a bold and unprecedented move, and the consequences wide and far-reaching…but is it the kind of nuclear solution the generally conservative Barrow administration would pursue? That’s left to be seen but a memo sent out to BTL employees yesterday from the employees trust discusses what it calls quote, a “rumor that government may even be considering buying Telemedia.” The trust is a 22% block of shares in the company which is nominally owned by the employees but is managed, controlled, operated and articulated from within the cockpit of some anonymous corporate mother-ship.

The memo says that Telemedia would consider such a sale at fair market value. Of course, the determination of fair market value for Telemedia varies greatly depending on whether or not the Accommodation Agreement is included in the sale. If it is left out – Telemedia’s position is that difference in the sale price is quote, “mind-bogglingly” different. And, government’s stated position is that the Accommodation Agreement is illegal and immoral and will not be entertained – which seems to dash hopes for a negotiated buy over.

And that leaves few agreeable options which our sources say means that the days ahead will likely see conflict replaced by confrontation as government may seek an enforced resolution. But whatever the case it’s clear from yesterday’s memo to staff that that Telemedia’s strategy is to use the Employee’s Trust as a powerful wedge to give the workers the sense that they have a stake in future manoeuvres.

We say that because the always mysteriously managed trust has announced that it will do what was hitherto thought to be unheard of: that is, nominate two employeea as trustees with the stated expectation that if the company is sold, a cash payment would be forthcoming to all employees.

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