Digicel owner buying Gaddafi telecom assets?

25 Nov 2011

According to unconfirmed reports, Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien has snapped up a number of African telecoms assets associated with the late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who was captured and killed by Libyan forces last month. The UK Times claims that O’Brien is part of a British-led consortium – also including investment firm Centamon, which is controlled by consultancy firm Levant Group and Demco – that has paid USD270 million for ‘a group of African mobile telecoms operations’, which TeleGeography believes to be LAP Green Network, the Libyan foreign investment vehicle with a track record for acquiring struggling state-owned operators across Africa. Companies currently operating under the LAP Green umbrella include: Zambia’s Zamtel, Rwandatel of Rwanda, Uganda Telecom Ltd (UTL), GreenN Cote d’Ivoire, GreenN Togo, GreenN Sierra Leone, Sonitel Niger and Gemtel in Sudan. It is unclear at this stage whether the transaction also involves Libya’s three domestic cellcos Libyana, Al Madar Telecomm Company and LibyaPhone Mobile, all of which are wholly state-owned via Libya Post and Telecommunications Information Technology (LPTIC).

Denis O’Brien is the chairman and founder of Digicel Group, operating telecoms services across the Caribbean, Central America and Pacific regions. Digicel earlier this month withdrew a proposal to bid for control of Irish telco Eircom.

Earlier this week Libya’s National Transitional Council unveiled the new cabinet that will govern the country until it holds its first elections. Telecoms engineer Anwar Fituri was appointed Minister of Telecommunications, and it appears that the former engineer has wasted no time in redistributing Gaddafi’s substantial telecoms assets.

Libya, Ambitel (GreenN), Digicel Group, Gemtel (Green Network), GreenN Cote d'Ivoire (formerly Oricel), GreenN Togo, LAP Green Network, Niger Telecoms (formerly Sonitel/SahelCom), Rwandatel, Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL), Zambia Telecommunications Company (Zamtel)