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Digicel Fiji Denies China Mobile Takeover

Digicel, founded by Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien, is one of the biggest mobile carriers in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Samoa.
15 May 2020 09:46
Digicel Fiji Denies China Mobile Takeover
Digicel regional chief executive officer Shally Jannif.

China Mobile is doing due diligence for the possible purchase of Digicel’s Pacific business, the Australian Financial Review reported.

The leading business and finance newspaper reported the potential deal, could be worth as much as US$900 million (AU$1.4billion) (FJ$2bn).

Digicel, founded by Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien, is one of the biggest mobile carriers in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Samoa.

Digicel Fiji in a statement released yesterday claimed there was no basis to the article in the Australian Financial Review on the sale of the company.

The statement from Digicel Fiji went on to say that “it’s reported that there is a proposed deal for the sale of Digicel to China Mobile and that this deal has raised concerns in Canberra, Australia, and opened a new front in Beijing’s battle for influence in the region”.

Digicel Regional chief, Pacific Markets, Shally Jannif, said; “We can categorically state that there is no basis to this whatsoever and that no approach has been made to us.

“Digicel is committed to the Pacific and will continue to serve customers with the best service and customer experience,” added Ms Jannif.

Digicel Fiji CEO, Farid Mohammed: “We can categorically state that there is no basis to this whatsoever and that no approach has been made to us.”

Digicel Group, which has operations in Central America and the Caribbean along with the Pacific, is struggling under US$6.7 billion (FJ$15.08bn) of debt and is facing looming repayment deadlines over the next 30 months, Australian  Financial Review said.

Digicel has spent US$6 billion (FJ$15bn) developing its networks and the business has 14 million subscribers.

It is understood that Mr O’Brien took at least US$1.9bn (FJ$4.27bn) of disclosed dividends out of the group between 2007 and 2015.

The Irish Times in a report said, current debt negotiations come a little over a year after bondholders who were owed almost US$3bn (FJ$6bn) agreed to postpone getting their money back, this accepting longer-dated notes in exchange for their holdings.

About China Mobile

China Mobile is an integrated telecommunications operator which provides full-service telecommunications services in the mainland of China and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

China Mobile provides the public with mobile communication services mainly via a 5G network based on a global unified standard, a 4G network based on the TDD/ FDD LTE standards, a 3G network based on the TD-SCDMA standard and a 2G network based on the GSM standard.

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