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Amper declines local investor offer to buy Bluesky, opts to sell to Fiji

Samoa News has learned that an investor group that includes local residents and Bluesky management made a competing bid to purchase the Bluesky Pacific Group last month, but that Bluesky’s present owner, Amper SA (Amper) decided to sell the company to a Fiji government controlled company instead.

The sale of Bluesky Pacific Group has not yet taken place, pending needed endorsements from various parties including regulatory approvals in the United States and in each of the countries in which Bluesky operates.

Bluesky Pacific Group is majority owned by Amper, which is a Spanish company. Amper is now negotiating the details of an agreement with Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Limited (ATH), which is a Fiji government controlled company, to sell its interests in Bluesky for a reported $79 million. (See Friday, Sept. 9 issue.)

Bluesky Pacific Group includes controlling interest in Bluesky Communications in American Samoa, Samoa, Cook Islands and New Zealand, and 67% ownership of the American Samoa Hawaii (ASH Cable) submarine cable. The American Samoa Government owns the other 33% of the ASH submarine cable.

Samoa News understands that a letter dated August 25, 2016, from American Samoa’s Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga to Amper’s CEO states the governor’s full support for the offer from “a consortium of investors including Bluesky Management and other local and overseas investors.”

According to the letter, Lolo acknowledges that he was aware of a non-binding agreement Amper had made with ATH, but stated that following a request from the local investor group, he was providing the American Samoa Government’s (ASG’s) “unequivocal support for the (local offer) over any other offer.” 

Governor Lolo wrote that his reasons for extending ASG’s support to the local group are “the American Samoa Government promotes local ownership in key development infrastructure, and supports the interests of local investors, management and employment.”

Samoa News contacted Adolfo Montenegro, Bluesky’s Chief Executive Officer, for his comments. Montenegro declined to comment except to say that he and the Bluesky management team were working with Amper and ATH.

Local attorney Barry Rose, who was Bluesky President in the past under different owners, is part of the local investor group, which reportedly also includes Bluesky management and staff. Rose told Samoa News that Amper’s Board of Directors met on August 29 to review the two offers to buy Bluesky — ATH and theirs.

Soon after that meeting, the Amper CEO informed the local investor group that their offer had been rejected in favor of an offer from ATH.

Rose said that he believes the local investor group’s offer was competitive with the offer from ATH, but Amper provided little explanation of its decision to sell the Bluesky Pacific Group to ATH instead of the local group. 

The local investor group includes residents from American Samoa and Samoa and Bluesky employees in American Samoa, Samoa, the Cook Island and New Zealand, according to Rose.

He said members of the local investor group are extremely disappointed in Amper’s decision to sell to a company from Fiji instead of the local investor group, which includes members that have worked so hard, for so many years, to build Bluesky into the successful regional company that it is today.

Rose was grateful for Governor Lolo’s strong endorsement of the local group’s offer, but said it was apparent that Amper did not give much weight to the American Samoa Government’s strong support of the local investor group, as evidenced in Amper’s decision to accept ATH’s offer without even responding to the Governor’s letter. 

Rose concluded by saying that the local investor group remains ready and able to purchase the Bluesky Pacific Group.