Thursday 2 July, 2020

Cable Bahamas restructures, plans virtual learning channel

Cable Bahamas' office in Freeport, Bahamas. Photo via cablebahamas.com

Cable Bahamas' office in Freeport, Bahamas. Photo via cablebahamas.com

Nassau-based Cable Bahamas Limited (CBL), which listed two preference stocks on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) in 2017, says it has changed its strategic goals as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a release via the JSE, the Cable Bahamas said it has completed a restructuring process and moved to increase digital outreach and access.

Cable Bahamas disclosed that it has laid off 105 employees and terminated the roles of 31 contract workers.

Approximately 95 per cent of essential employees have been deployed to work from home in light of Bahamian Government orders to stem the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the islands.

About 30 essential staff cannot work remotely and have to report into office. The company said working remotely has realised an increase in productivity.

“The COVID-19 impact on CBL’s financial reporting systems and internal controls over financial reporting, disclosure controls and procedures are minimal,” it was stated.

In 2017 the company raised capital on the Jamaican market in a private placement, mostly from pension funds.

The company, arising from the raise, was able to buildout its triple play service provider through subsidiaries Revoice for mobile, RevTV for cable and Revon for Internet.

Felicity L. Johnson, General Counsel and Company Secretary said Cable Bahamas has been able to accelerate segments of business strategy such as electronic banking and e-learning due to COVID-19.

CBL said it has also offered it services and expertise to government organisations who were not as nimble in their digital transition and “the company remains poised to successfully meet the new challenges posed by this pandemic with minimal disruption to the business.”

Johnson noted, “From a customer perspective we have been able to have customers engage in the paying of bills via a number of electronic\mobile applications.”

Plans to engage the government in further e-commerce opportunities are also being fast-tracked, including The Bahamas Learning Channel, which provides a virtual learning environment for children now at home.

Under COVID-19, approximately 400 persons were required to work remotely and have been provided with equipment\solutions required for access.

The company also boosted broadband connectivity, intranet access, videoconferencing, internal social networks etc.

Faced with concerns about information privacy and cybersecurity the company noted that emerging threats have ranged from malicious coronavirus-themed email and social engineering campaigns; increased ransomware attacks to the exploitation of vulnerabilities on devices being used outside the normal office environment.

To address some of the inherent cybersecurity risks due to the novel coronavirus, the company said it has strengthened remote access to management virtual private network (VPN) capabilities, which have been scaled to accommodate all employees.

Two-factor authentication for VPN access was also implemented to add another layer of security. The company also increased security awareness training.

On March 20, all company stores were closed due to emergency orders because of COVID-19.

In response, the company said, it began an aggressive marketing campaign to change customer behaviour, directing them towards other methods of payment, at banks, via credit cards and to third-party vendors and the response from our customers has been positive.

The company saw “a slight decline” in cash collection at the end of March; however, things turned around in April, CBL said.

The company also said it has not altered or terminated workers’ current compensation plans and continues to offer “all benefits and incentives to drive individual and organization performance.”

The business continues to operate effectively despite the travel restrictions and border closures, it was stated.

Meanwhile, CBL said, “proactive measures were taken at the onset of Covid-19 to replenish stock levels on breadbasket items.”

Additionally, arrangements were made with vendors and suppliers to have stock moved to warehouses in the South Florida area for ease of access and shipping to the Bahamas.

“We reviewed all of our supply chains and immediately began contacting vendors to firstly, ensure that we could continue to get the supplies needed to maintain our business and secondly to request extended payment terms from 30 days to 60 and 90 days,”  it was outlined.

The company has also contacted content providers who, they note, “are also working with us to help keep programming fees low and aligned with our reduced commercial (hotels) subscribers. We have slowed our payments considerably to only staff, small local vendors and for urgent products and services needed to run our business.”

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