IT&E Expanding to Hawaii Market
IT&E is looking to expand its clientele from Guam to Hawaii. I still see Guam as the technology hub of the pacific. There’s so much potential in what Guam can do. Things like the new cable across the pacific and new ventures of IT&E are great developments for Guam.
In an interview with the BusinessMirror, Jose Ricardo P.R. Delgado Jr., president and chief executive officer of Citadel and PTI, said: “We’re looking to sell our [long-distance] phone cards to Hawaii first, and exploring other options where we can do business.” The planned expansion will be carried out through PTI’s Guam-based telecoms unit, IT&E Overseas Inc.
Delgado, also president and CEO of IT&E, declined to reveal details of the planned expansion to Hawaii, saying it is “too early to talk.” The major carriers in Hawaii include AT&T Corp., Hawaiian Telecom, Pacific Light Net Inc., and Oceanic Time Warner Cable, a digital phone service and major cable TV provider owned by Time Warner/AOL.
Analysts noted that Hawaiian Telecom, specifically, is ripe for a possible takeover. The company filed for bankruptcy in December 2008 and in June filed a reorganization plan proposing to convert $940 million in outstanding debt into equity in a reorganized company. The plan also proposes to cancel about $150 million in subordinated notes.
In an e-mail to the BusinessMirror, Lawrence Knecht, executive vice president and chief financial officer of IT&E, said of the phone cards: “We will target the Filipino market and other ethnic groups across the whole marketplace.” The long distance phone cards will be preloaded with dollar amounts to pay for the cost of long-distance phone calls.
Knecht said the phone cards will be launched “before year end.”
Asked why IT&E is looking to invest in Hawaii, he said: “We are always looking for new markets.”
He added that despite the global recession, IT&E is managing well. “Things are certainly quite [challenging], but communications is always needed and continues to grow. We just focus on cost structure and drive revenue where we can. We try to invest wisely in technology that makes sense. We want to serve our customer across all service levels.”
Citadel is the private holding company of the Delgado family with investments in aviation services, freight management and logistics, and telecommunications. In 2005, Citadel’s Prospector Investments Ltd. took over the Micronesia Telecom Corp. of Saipan from Verizon Communications, and now operates in Guam and Northern Marianas as PTI.
In 2006, Japanese-owned Sumitomo Corp. bought a 25-percent stake in PTI and took over IT&E. Prospector, a holding firm based in the Cayman Islands, is co-owned by Ricardo C. Delgado Sr. (60 percent) and his son, Delgado Jr. (40 percent).
IT&E provides voice and data communications services in Guam. It provides long-distance, wireless, Wi-Fi, broadband Internet, high-speed Internet and business telephone systems services. The company is a recipient of several wireless and equipment contracts from the US Department of Defense for its various facilities on Guam including the US Naval Hospital.
Meanwhile, Citadel chairman Delgado Sr. said IT&E continues to widen its reach in the Pacific. “We just signed a roaming agreement with PNCC of Palau.” PNCC is the privately owned Palau National Communications Corp., which serves the local and international telecommunications services of Palau. It also operates a GSM-based mobile phone system called PNCC Wireless. GSM means Global System for Mobile communications, the most popular standard for mobile phones in the world. It is estimated that 80 percent of the global mobile market uses this standard.
The elder Delgado added there are also ongoing discussions for similar roaming agreements with the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia. “First we connect the islands,” he explained, before pushing the expansion of its other telecom services in the region.
The Marshall Islands has only one telecommunications provider, the government-owned Marshall Islands National Telecommunications Authority (NTA), which provides a GSM wireless service and in 2003, provided Internet services on the capital of Majuro. Internet service outside the capital—on Ebeye, Kwajalein—is provided by Guam’s IT&E. NTA has plans to submerge a fiber optic cable connecting Majuro to Ebeye.
FSM Telecommunications Corp. is a public telecommunications company which offers landline, Internet, cable TV and wireless phone services in the islands.
The younger Delgado was earlier quoted as saying that PTI is willing to provide $18 million to NTA for the fiber optic cable project. He also cited several areas of cooperation with telecoms firms in the Pacific region. “Most of these things are exploratory, but we do want to be the company that connects the Pacific together—that has not changed and we are making efforts to establish friendly and cooperative relationships with these various phone companies. Being part of a bigger group helps everybody.”
As for its Philippine business, the younger Delgado, who is also the president of Citadel and Miascor Holdings, said their firms are coping well with the global recession. “Our cargo volumes are lean, but on the other hand, with the amount of Filipinos traveling to the Middle East, Miascor is doing well.”
Citadel owns Citadel Shipping Service Inc., the general service agent for Hyundai Merchant Marine, which moves cargo from the Philippines to the US, Europe and Asia. Miascor Holdings Inc., another subsidiary, provides ground handling and inflight catering services to international airlines. Another unit, Miascor Logistics Corp., a fully integrated cargo company providing warehousing, import and export cargo handling, and mail handling.
Citadel to ring up Hawaii, pushes Pacific expansion
Written by Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo / Special to the BusinessMirror
Monday, 06 July 2009 23:01