Interest in Bruce Telecom still there
by Sandy Lindsay

February 23, 2015

Kincardine Council

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Kincardine Mayor, Anne Eadie, was tasked by Council to contact Bragg Communications, the company that owns and operates Eastlink, to see if there was any interest remaining in purchasing Bruce Telecom.

Eadie spoke with Bragg by phone on Friday, February 13th and, at the last meeting of Council, she brought the results of her discussion to Council.

"Apparently," she said, "Bragg is still interested in the possible purchase of Bruce Telecom but it depends on whether or not the situation with the Competition Bureau can be sorted out."

The original proposed purchase ($24M) of Bruce Telecom by Bragg Communication was halted when the Federal Bureau expressed concerns that the purchase may result in a 'monopoly'  in areas currently serviced by Bruce Telecom.

"I want to make it clear," said Eadie, "if Council concurs, we will engage our consultants to connect with Bragg and the Competition Bureau and see what options we can bring back to Council."

Councilor Laura Haight questioned the fact that the motion had already been passed to discuss and negotiate to see if there is value in that deal. "I think we need to know what does it look like, in that are customers from Port Elgin and Paisley worth anything, what is the residual value in the company without those customers and what is the intent of the whole motion.  It's great that you (Mayor) made contact but my whole point is  ...what is the value of the company going forward ... the dividend has gone down and, if there is a $37M expenditure for fibre, what is the value.  If it's worth $24M, then perhaps it's worth considering but if the value is $14M then perhaps it's not worth considering.  I would like that information going forward."

Kincardine CAO, Murray Clarke, said that the Mayor was being cautionary due to the controversial nature of the issue.  "If Council feels that the motion as it is structured, provides the breadth to move on to the next step, then that's fine.  We can engage the consultants."

Councilor Maureen Couture said that "...it's not fair to keep coming back every week to go forward with something when the motion was quite comprehensive in directing the Mayor to contact and engage with consultants to determine whether or not there was any consideration this council might want to give before making a final decision.  This is really debating a motion that was passed.  We are still not making a decision."

"I think one of the issues," said Councilor Randy Roppel, "that I would like to see when we get to the decision as to whether we are going to sell it or whether we're not, and one of the things that has been overlooked that I definitely want to see, is the economic impact of selling this company.  We have employees, who make money and live here and spend their money, so it's definitely going to have a huge economic impact on this area.  When you look beyond that and at the cost difference of what they're providing and the cost of what we're providing now, there is a huge difference."

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The public has a right to know that this isn't going to come with 'no strings attached', Roppel pointed out. "There are strings attached and we have to make sure employees are aware of what is going on and the public has to be aware so the economic spin-offs have to be addressed."

Councilor Gord Campbell wanted to know if Bragg is willing to pay the same price but the Mayor said that she did not ask the question but only if they were still interested in the possibility of a purchase or renegotiate.

The Mayor said that the consultants would be engaged and a report brought back to Council.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015