Spark has sold its 60% share in Telecom Cook Islands, the current telecommunications operator in the Cook Islands, for US$23 million, to an association of local investors named Teleraro. The Cook Islands government has kept its 40% share.
Simon Mutter, the new boss of Spark said that it is division of his policy of re-targeting on the NZ industry. Spark (previously branded as Telecom) announced the auction of its Telecom Cook Islands share in April the previous year. At that time it had a deal lined up with Digicel, that operates around the Pacific and Carribean.
A Spark insider tells NBR that politics came into play, with a local buyer preferred over Digicel (which was also offering $23 million). the sale followed a minor barney over whether Teleraro (75 per cent directly owned by the foreign entity, Bluesky Samoa), could in fact be considered a local outfit. The deal went through regardless. Spark bought into Cook Islands Telecom in 1991, paying $4 million (or an inflation-adjusted $6.5 million) for its stake.
“The sale of Telecom Cook Islands is consistent with this strategy and with our desire to focus principally on our New Zealand operations and on the needs of New Zealand customers,” says Spark MD Simon Moutter.
On a larger scale, Mr. Moutter's re-focus on the domestic market has also seen the sale of Spark's AAPT subsidiary in Australia and Spark Digital (formerly Gen-i) withdraw from the Australian market.