LiLAC takes over Columbus/CWC communications this month
By early next year, Cable & Wireless Communications and Columbus Communications — Liberty Global’s telecommunications entities in Latin America and the Caribbean — are expected to operate solely under the umbrella Liberty LatAm and Caribbean (LiLAC).
This will follow LiLAC’s split-off from Liberty Global, which is expected to be consummated with current executive vice-president and chief technology and innovation officer (CTIO) at Liberty Global Balan Nair, taking over as the chief executive officer (CEO) of LiLAC.
Not much information is available to customers of local Liberty Global companies CWC Communications and Columbus Communications, which currently operate as different entities under Liberty Global’s ownership.
This situation has raised the anger of Caribbean trade unions representing LiLAC’s workers across the region, including the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), which represents staff in Jamaica.
BITU Vice-President Ruddy Thomas, who was in Grenada last week for a meeting of trade union representatives from Jamaica, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and The Bahamas, said that they have established a global alliance with European colleagues who are members of UNI supported by unions in Belgium, The Netherlands, Panama, and Chile.
“During the deliberations, we noted the company’s decision to restructure its various operations throughout the region, and what appears to be a deliberate avoidance of dialogue with the unions who represent these employees,” Thomas told the Jamaica Observer.
“We wish to remind the company that this type of behaviour does not augur well towards co-operation,” he added.
However, a number of releases have been made available by Liberty Global on the Internet. In addition, early last month, John Reid, who took over as interim CEO of CWC when its acquisition by Liberty Global was completed in May 2016, wrote to “all employees” saying:
“You should by now have seen the announcement that Balan Nair is to be appointed CEO Liberty LatAm and Caribbean (LiLAC) on completion of the split-off from Liberty Global — due to happen around the end of the year.
“Many of you will know Balan in his current position as CTO for Liberty Global; he has also visited many of our markets including most recently some of our Caribbean countries impacted by the hurricanes.
“I am personally delighted that LiLAC will have a CEO of Balan’s calibre. With the split-off and a strong new board and leadership team, LiLAC is well-positioned to become the foremost operator in our region.
“And these are exciting times for C&W too — remember that we comprise around two-thirds of LiLAC’s revenues, so we have an important role to play in the success of the new company. Our region has numerous growth opportunities, and the strength of the LiLAC organisation leaves us well-placed to capture these and for all our employees to be part of an exciting journey. We will continue to ensure that you are all kept up-to-date with any developments.”
Nair, according to Liberty Global, brings to his new role nearly 25 years of experience in the telecommunications, Internet, cable and media industries.
“As one of Liberty Global’s top executives over the last 10 years, he has managed the group’s fixed and mobile network operations, broadband and video product development and strategic planning,” the company said.
“He currently oversees a workforce of 7,500 employees and an operating and capital budget of more than US$5 billion in Europe, as well as the technology and product roadmap for Latin America. Nair will remain in his current position with Liberty Global until the split-off is completed, and a search is already under way for his successor.”
Liberty Global’s CEO, Mike Fries, who will serve as executive chairman of the Latin American company after the split-off, has rated Balan as “an exceptional technologist and operating executive who has delivered tremendous value to our company as CTO”.