ATH and Amper sign Sale & Purchase Agreement for Bluesky

Concludes CEO Aoe’e Adolfo Montenegro’s management contract
rhonda@samoanews.com

In an email to Bluesky employees, leaked to Samoa News, the CEO of Amper SA (Amper), Jaime Espinosa announced the signing of “the Sale and Purchase Agreement between Amalgamated Telecom Holdings ("ATH") and the Amper Group by which
 Amper sells all its Telecom Businesses in South Pacific to "ATH".

The agreement was signed last Friday, Sept. 23rd and reportedly local Bluesky managers received the email on Saturday morning, which precipitated a meeting of about 30 Bluesky managers and senior staff in American Samoa that same evening, which ended in the small hours of Sunday.

In the same email, seemingly in an ‘aside’, Espinosa announced he will be taking on more responsibilities during this “transition period”, and CEO Aoe’e Adolfo Montenegro’s management contract had been “concluded”.

He said the release of Montenegro was done in consultation with ATH, and said it is his “intention to assume executive responsibilities in the Group for sometime and replace the CEO with someone within the current employees of the BlueSky Group. It is also my intention to delegate more powers to the Country Managers so they can act as CEOs of each of their companies.”

Espinosa continued, “I will call Board meetings at 
BlueSky Samoa Telecom Investments and BlueSky Management Ltd to 
replace the CEO of the BlueSky Group.

“Have no doubt that any problem that may arise during this period will be overcome and solutions will be found,” he said.

Aoe’e Adolfo Montenegro has been the CEO for Bluesky for 8 years, and led the expansion of the company from a local company operating only in American Samoa — to Samoa, and the Cook Islands — resulting in the Bluesky Pacific Group, which majority shares owned by Amper SA are now being sold to ATH.

According to former Bluesky president Barry Rose, a local attorney, the growth and expansion of Bluesky is the result of hard work by Montenegro and the Bluesky team and little if any of the credit belongs to Amper, which has been on the verge of bankruptcy for several years.

Rose said Montenegro’s termination by Amper was “awful but not a surprise” given Amper’s history. Rose is currently suing Amper in Spain for failing to pay Rose and his family for Bluesky stock they sold to Amper in 2013.

Rose and others say the likely reason for Montenegro’s dismissal is because Montenegro, together with Bluesky staff and local investors, including Rose, submitted an offer to purchase Bluesky from Amper and has raised questions about the sale to ATH.

The major player, according to Fiji Times, in the sale is ATH subsidiary Vodafone Fiji.

Fiji Times in its article, Sept 9th of this year, quotes Vodafone’s CEO Padeep Lal as saying the move is part of their “Pacific collaboration” and plans towards connecting the Pacific, and assured that ‘local staff’ will be retained with few Fiji staff based in the three operations — Am. Samoa, Samoa, Cook Islands, pointing to its recent purchase of telecom operations in Kiribati.

Samoa News asked Aoe’e about his thoughts on the future of Bluesky and ASH-Cable in the Territory due to this sale to ATH.

He responded, “I am at peace knowing that we made Bluesky into the very successful company that it is today. When I say ‘we’, I am referring to all the people that came before me, and the incredibly talented team that remains.

“I am truly honored to have worked alongside the Bluesky team for the past eight years, and I am confident that under the leadership of Filifotu Va'ai-Tinitali [current Bluesky Country Manager for American Samoa], that team will continue to be successful in the future.

“I have grown alongside Bluesky and will take much from my time at the company, including an incredible sense of pride in the service we have brought to the community and region. My family and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity,” *`*he said.

Aoe’e touched briefly on the future of Bluesky in the Territory, saying, “When it comes to FCC approvals, I have advised the current owners of the risks. I would not speculate on something that may or may not happen.

“In my experience over the last 30 years I would say, as residents of this territory, we need ASTCA as much as we need Bluesky. Two strong companies providing key services for our people. I don't see either one going away,” Aoe’e said.

Espinosa’s email also reiterated what Amper has said before, that the agreement is subject to obtaining authorizations by regulatory authorities as well as by the Shareholders meeting of the Amper Group to be held ‪on October 3rd.

(This meeting is to take place in Madrid, Spain, according to a press release of Amper SA, dated Sept. 23, 2016, which was not a part of the Bluesky email, and was Google translated, as it was in Spanish.)

In addition, the email mentions the meeting a week ago that Espinosa and ATH officials had with local Bluesky management, noting he “tried to explain to most of you last week when I was at your 
offices, this transaction will be beneficial to the employees, to the 
clients and to the minority shareholders in the BlueSky Group.

“To the 
employees because it respects the jobs and you will be part of a solid
 group that can offer you internal job opportunities, to the clients
 because the economies of scale and new investment capacity will allow
 for a better service, and for the minority shareholders because they 
will be part of a stronger Company and will have the capacity to 
expose themselves to other markets if so they wish.”

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