March 25, 2004 – V.I. businessman Jeffrey Prosser, owner of Virgin Islands' telephone systems, cable television station TV2, The Daily News and numerous other media, has signed an unconditional agreement to purchase a majority of the primary telephone, wireless and Internet provider in the Central American country of Belize, according to company officials.
Through a new company, Innovative Communication Corp. LLC, Prosser will pay $57 million to take control of 52.5 percent of Belize Telecommunications Ltd. from the Belize government, who had purchased the company in February from Belize City-based Carlisle Holding Ltd. for the same price.
The deal is to close formally April 1.
"We heard there was an interest from the government to buy out [the company]," Innovative's vice president of public relations, Rene Henry, said by telephone from the company's office in West Palm Beach, Fla., Wednesday. "The minute we heard, we initiated negotiations."
Employing more than 490 people in 17 branch offices, Belize Telecommunications Ltd. is the country's largest telecommunications provider, with an estimated 48,000 fixed-line and 60,000 mobile-telephone customers, Henry said. The company also estimates they service 10,000 Internet customers.
There are no plans to change the management or staff in Belize, Henry said, or to reduce the number of employees.
Innovative plans to invest an additional $100 million to secure the rest of the stock and gain full control of Belize Telecommunications Ltd., Henry said.
Belize Prime Minister Said Musa issued a statement this week saying he was pleased with the sale and hoped it would help his country meet its social and economic needs.
Innovative Communication Corp. and Innovative Communication Corp. LLC will not share funds, Henry said, but will share facilities and some management staff.
Prosser's Innovative Communication Corp., with more than 660 workers, is the Virgin Islands' second largest employer.
Prosser also owns companies controlling a network of media, including Innovative Telephone, Innovative Cable TV and The Daily News newspaper in the U.S. Virgin Islands; BVI Cable TV in the British Virgin Islands; St. Maarten Cable TV; Eastern Caribbean Cellular in St. Martin; World Satellite Guadeloupe; Martinique TV Cable; and Valvision in France.
He also owns a company controlling the Virgin Islands Community Bank.
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