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Framhein makes his move on Telecom

Friday May 09, 2014 Written by Published in Technology
William Framhein says his consortium has the money and the experience to match Digicel. 14043013 William Framhein says his consortium has the money and the experience to match Digicel. 14043013

Local businessman William Framhein has joined forces with an overseas telecommunications company and made an 11th-hour offer to buy the Telecom Cook Islands shares.

He submitted an expression of interest yesterday, only one day before the door officially closes for locals to make a bid on the majority shareholding.

Telecom New Zealand has entered into a conditional agreement to sell its 60 per cent stake in Telecom Cook Islands (TCI) to Digicel for $23 million.

Those shares have to be advertised in the Cook Islands for 30 days - a period which ends today.

Framhein’s consortium expects to be funded by a 67 per cent investment from his company KukiCel, and a 33 per cent investment from Hong Kong-based firm Distacom.

Distacom is a private holding company which claims to have a track record of investing in and operating wireless businesses around the world since the 1970s. 

Framhein said his consortium “has the money and the experience” to match Digicel.  

“This is not a bid Telecom New Zealand can ignore. If our bid is successful, the KukiCel consortium that’s been formed will have the expertise in running large networks, far larger than what we’ve got here.”

Framhein offered assurance that TCI staff would be safe in their jobs under his watch. 

“We don’t intend to change any of the staff structure.”

He has already asked Jules Maher, who left the company as Chief Executive last week, to return and take up the leadership.

“He said ‘Thank you for the offer’ but for now he can’t. He’s got to spend time with his kids but he hasn’t said ‘no’.”

Asked why he waited until the last day to make a bid, Framhein said the consortium was putting together firm documentation to support its offer.

“We needed to be able to illustrate evidence of our financial ability.”

Earlier in the week, another consortium of Cook Islands investors – led by local businessman Brian Baudinet – said it was planning to submit an expression of interest.

Framhein said he was not opposed to meeting with Baudinet to talk about shared ground.

“We’ve left the door open for discussion with Brian, on his time.”

Master carver Mike Tavioni has also been promoting a plan to pool local money to match the $23 million Digicel bid.

Both Tavioni and Democratic Party leader Wilkie Rasmussen have said the current May 10 deadline for local expressions of interest should be extended.

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