Robert Le Hunte--headshot

Public Utilities minister Robert Le Hunte

Government is in the process of identifying a new chairman for the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT), Public Utilities Minister Robert LeHunte said yesterday.

LeHunte confirmed that former chairman, Robert Mayers, whose term of office expired in early November, would not be returning to the telephone company. “Right now there is no chairman, but we are in the process of looking for, of appointing, somebody,” LeHunte stated.

“Robert’s term of office came to an end. The chairmanship of TSTT is a very demanding job. Robert did a fantastic job, he took TSTT throughout a very difficult time. And as minister I am eternally grateful and extremely happy with the work he has done to take TSTT to where it is, in the transformational process of TSTT, and especially putting the organisation in a position so that it can truly fulfil its mandate by now being financially viable.”

LeHunte said Mayers, for personal reasons, having looked at the demands of the job, felt that he ought to move on. “He was not fired, he didn’t feel that he wanted to continue,” LeHunte said, adding that he and Mayers had an excellent relationship.

TSTT reports to two ministers—the Minister of Public Utilities and the Ministry of Finance, as Corporation Sole, Colm Imbert.

Mayers, who was appointed in early November 2017, took over from former chairman Emile Elias, who resigned suddenly.

TSTT raised US$400 million on the international capital market by issuing a bond paying the interest rate of 8.875 per cent per annum.

In the offering memorandum accompanying the bond, TSTT said: “In the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019, we generated total revenue of $2,455.2 million, an operating loss of $1,175.4 million, a loss after tax of $1,145.1 million and adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation) of $481.8 million, representing an adjusted EBITDA margin of 20 per cent.

“This compared to total revenue of $2,638.9 million, an operating profit of $96.3 million, a loss after tax of $21.4 million and adjusted EBITDA of $576.6 million, representing an adjusted EBITDA margin of 22 per cent, in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2018.”

TSTT’s performance in the year ending March 31, 2019, was impacted by the cost of its retrenchment exercise and the non-payment by the Government of money owed to the company for the provision of a CCTV network for the Ministry of National Security.

The offering memorandum states: “In November 2018, we successfully implemented our staff reduction programme, which resulted in a reduction in our headcount by approximately 700 employees. We expect that the staff reduction programme will result in significant annual operational cost savings going forward as compared to previous years.” The operational cost savings is reflected in the company’s performance in its first quarter of the financial year ending March 31, 2020.

The document states: “In the three months ended June 30, 2019, we generated total revenue of $633.1 million, an operating profit of $70.4 million, a profit after tax of $8.5 million and adjusted EBITDA of $189.2 million, representing an adjusted EBITDA margin of 30 per cent, compared to total revenue of $630.1 million, an operating loss of $22.5 million, a loss after tax of $5.3 million and adjusted EBITDA of $107.2 million, representing an adjusted EBITDA margin of 17 per cent, in the three months ended June 30, 2018.”

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