Gov objects to termination of ASH-Cable president and CEO
In a strongly worded letter to Bluesky’s parent company Amper SA, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has demanded an explanation for the “termination and removal” of Aoe’e Adolfo Montenegro as president and chief executive officer of American Samoa Hawai’i LLC., (ASH-Cable), which is minority owned by the territorial government.
Lolo says Amper SA and Fiji based ATH, which has purchased the Bluesky group “has no business to meddling” in the affairs of ASH Cable, as they are not members.
Montenegro had also served as Bluesky’s president and chief executive officer since 2008. Samoa News reported last Tuesday that in an email to Bluesky employees the morning of Sept. 24, Amper chairman Jaime Espinosa announced the signing of “the Sale and Purchase Agreement and also that he would be taking on more responsibilities during this “transition period.” It was then he announced that Montenegro’s management contract had been “concluded.”
Termination of Montenegro’s management contract appears to have also included his leadership post with ASH-Cable, which owns and manages the undersea fiber optic cable connecting American Samoa to Hawai’i, and the spur, which connects Samoa to American Samoa.
Samoa News understands the Governor’s Office was informed two weekends ago of Montenegro’s termination.
Last Friday, the governor fired off a letter to Espinosa, saying that ASG “objects to your purported termination and removal” of Montenegro. And the decision to remove Montenegro “violates the terms” of the ASH-Cable LLC Agreement, the governor noted.
“Specially, it appears that the decision was made pursuant to an agreement between Amper, SA and ATH, both of whom are not members of ASH Cable and have no authority to meddle in the business affairs of ASH Cable,” the governor wrote to Espinosa.
Lolo points out that ASG and eLandia International “are the only members” of ASH Cable, a project in which the territorial government invested “$9 million in public funds.”
ASG “expects to be consulted and informed about of all major decisions regarding the operations of ASH Cable especially the removal of a key member of the operation,” Lolo said and, adding that Montenegro has been with ASH Cable from “the very beginning and has intimate and invaluable knowledge of the business.”
According to the governor, Montenegro’s “removal creates an unacceptable risk for ASG’s substantial investment in AS Cable and triggers ASG’s rights under the LLC Agreement as well as under American Samoa law.”
“ASG demands an immediate explanation and justification for the purported elimination of Mr. Montenegro’s role in ASH Cable,” the governor said. He then declared, “Otherwise, ASG will seek to exercise its rights under the LLC Agreement and under American Samoa law.”
A week before the termination of Montenegro’s contract with Bluesky and ASH Cable, Espinosa along with ATH general manager Ivan Fong, and FNPF investment consultant Naibuka Sauna arrived in the territory on Sept. 16 and met with the governor’s team, lead by Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale.
ASH Cable was one of the issues on the meeting agenda.
Discussed at the meeting was the sale of Bluesky and ASH Cable.
Talauega told Samoa News that during the meeting ASG notified “Amper that it is in violation of the ASH Cable Limited Liability Agreement by failing to notify ASG and failing to honor ASG's right of first refusal before accepting ATH's offer to buy the shares of ASH Cable owned by Amper's subsidiary eLandia.”
Also discussed at the meeting was the potential loss of jobs due to the acquisition; and securing increased/ stronger internet bandwidth at lower/competitive costs. Talauega said the answers provided by ATH “were general in nature.” (See Samoa News edition Sept. 20 for details.)
Samoa News should point out that Amper has said its sale agreement is to sell “all its Telecom Businesses in South Pacific to ATH.”
Amper is the majority shareholder of eLandia International based in Florida, which is the majority shareholder of eLandia Technologies, which in turn owns the majority of shares in ASH-Cable, of which American Samoa is a minority shareholder. ASG invested $9Mil for these shares.