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Investors line up as Gibtelecom builds global presence

Article quoted from Gibraltar Chronicle, Monday 15 January 2015

The Government of Gibraltar has received several 'informal' approaches from companies and investors interested in buying a stake in Gibtelecom, which is seeking to grow its internatioanl presence.

The Government currently owns Gibtelecom after puchasing the 50% shareholding owned by Telekom Slovenije in a €47.7m strategic move to ensure Gibrealtar maintained control over who bought into the company.

Cheif Minister Fabian Picardo said the search for a new partner was well underway.

And with Gibtelecom focusing heavily on developming its global business, he said there was no shortage of interest in the Gibraltar-based telecommunications company.

"The Government is already in receipt of a large number of informal approaches in respect of new partners," Mr Picardo told the Chronicle. "There's a very great interest out there in joining with the Government of Gibraltar to take Gibtelecom to the next stage in its development."

Mr Picardo was speaking at a reception hosted by Gibtelecom in the Science Museum in London last week, which attracted around 200 guests from 70 companies from the telecommunications sector around the world.

Tim Bristow, the chief executive of Gibtelecom said the reception was a way for Gibtelecom to bring together its commercial partners and clients at a time when the company is stepping up its profile on the global stage and establishing the Rock as international telecommunications hub.

While Gibtelecom is best known in Gibraltar as a provide of telecommunications for the local community, a large segment of its business is in fact outward facing.

The company is a partner in the Europe India Gateway (EIG) consortium, having invested $30m in 2007 in a project that involved laying 15,000km of high-bandwidth fibre optic submarine cable stretching from the UK to India, with landing stations in Portugal, Gibraltar, Monaco, France, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

With demand for increased data services between Europe and Asia expected to grow at an average of 38% per year in the next six years, the EIG consortium is multiplying the capacity on its international submarine cable system.

The first phase of the EIG cable upgrade - from the United Kingdom to Djibouti - is complete, with phase two - enhacing the cable capability to India - underway.

The cable opens up additional routes for telecommunications traffic to and from Gibraltar at a time of increasing demand from sectors such as online gaming.

But importantly, it also allows Gibtelecom an opportunity to sell excess capacity to carriers around the world.

"This cable system not only provides Gibtelecom with significantly enchanced route diversity to completement its terrestrial and other sea routes, but has placed the company in a position to seek business opportunities outside Gibraltar through capacity and bandwidth sales," Mr Bristow said.

SCIENCE  VENUE

The backdrop for the London reception was the Science Museum's 'Information age' exhibition, which was opened by the Queen last October and charts 200 years of development in communication and information technologies.

Gibtelecom is the first company to host a corporate event in this new gallery, which is described by the museum as its "biggest and most ambitious" to date.

Information Age is divided into six zones, each representing a different information and communication technology network including the cable; the telephon exchange; broadcast; the constellation; the cell; and the web.

The gallery explores the important events which shaped the development of these networks, from the dramatic stories behind the growth of the worldwide telegraph network in the 18th century, to the influence of mobile phones on modern life.

It includes a panel on submarine fibre optic cables that allow telecommunications close to the speed of light from othne continent to another.

Mr Picardo reflected on that last point during the Gibtelecom reception and prompted laughter and a round of applause as he snapped the guests on his mobile with a promise to upload the image on social media.

"The challenge for Gibtelecom is simple," he said, "we have to take the business to the speed of light."