CEO Pieter Drenth: ”No Turning Back” with restructuring of TelEm Group, Smitcoms NV

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Sint Maarten Telecommunication Holding Company N.V., Mr. Peter Drenth, has announced the appointment of a new Chief Commercial Officer (CFO), Chief Technical Officer (CTO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) as the first major step in the merging of the TelEm Group of Companies and Smitcoms N.V.

The appointees are Mr. Brian Mingo (CCO); Mr. Eldert Louisa (CTO) and Mrs. Helma Etnel (CFO) – Mr. Drenth is already appointed CEO by the Supervisory Board of Directors.

The appointments were officially announced to a General Meeting of TelEm Group and Smitcom NV personnel at the Belair Community Center on Thursday, September 18th, 2008.

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According to the CEO, the team has been appointed on a temporary basis to fill vacant positions on the Sint Maarten Telecommunications (Operating) Company N.V., the company that will eventually be responsible for all the TelEm Group and Smitcoms N.V,. personnel once they are transferred from the present companies in the group ( TelEm,TelCell and Smitcoms N.V.)

Mr. Drenth informed that the three appointments will form the foundation of a new customer driven telecommunication company and less of the technically driven company that the TelEm Group and Smitcoms N.V. have become.

The positions will not become permanent until they are officially posted within the companies and other employees are given the opportunity to apply for the top executive posts.

Mr. Drenth informed that TelEm Group President Director, Mr. Edward Benjamin, has reached the retirement age and will be leaving the company, but has agreed to remain until the greater part of the merger process is completed.

"We are thankful to Mr. Benjamin for his assistance and now with this new team we are ready to press ahead at all speed because time is very short," said Mr. Drenth.

He said much work has already been carried out behind the scenes to prepare the companies for the eventual merger. He said his job in the coming weeks and months will be to implement these plans in the most efficient way possible.

Meantime restructuring plans for the TelEm Group of Companies and Smitcoms NV were presented to the joint meeting of personnel at the Belair Community Center Thursday, September 18, 2008.

The presentation, entitled "No Turning Back" was given by Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Pieter H. Drenth and presented his vision for the future of the TelEm Group once the restructuring plans are completed.

Mr. Drenth profiled the TelEm Group and Smitcoms NV as potentially profitable companies that have not woken up to the growing competition that continues to eat away at their own bottom line locally, and in the case of Smitcoms N.V., internationally.

"We are going to stand up to the competition," Mr. Drenth told the TelEm Group audience.

He urged TelEm Group and Smitcoms workers to put the past behind them and look ahead to the future, however he warned that the road ahead will not be an easy one since it will take determination, training, commitment and most of all a willingness to provide only the most excellent service to customers.

Quizzed about the possibility of layoffs, Mr. Drenth said the merging of companies will lead to redundancies, however he assured it is still too early to say precisely how many jobs will be lost..

Speaking after the meeting Mr. Drenth said he was pleased that personnel had the opportunity to ask questions and in some cases vent their strong feelings about developments in the companies over the years.

"I appreciated the questions and I have promised to follow up where I can," continued Mr. Drenth.

"Based on assessments so far, there will be no big bang where it concerns layoffs, instead I see things going more in stages as we crank up the engine and get the company moving," said the CEO, assuring that he would not have accepted the job of restructuring the TelEm Group and Smitcoms NV if it only meant sending people home.

"The fact is, we need good, skilled and dedicated workers to run the company efficiently and profitably in a leaner and meaner fashion," added Mr. Drenth, after the meeting had ended.

He said he has ensured that all parties are fully involved and informed about the process that is taking place including meetings with government representatives, managers within the company, union representatives, the government mediator and from Thursdayâ??s meeting, the personnel of the TelEm Group and Smitcoms NV themselves.