Digicel CEO says investments hang on CWC/Columbus merger

8 Dec 2014

The chief executive of international wireless operator Digicel Group has said that the firm could re-examine its investment strategy in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean region should Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) be given the regulatory go-ahead for its proposed USD3 billion buyout of another regional operator, Columbus International. CWC operates across the Caribbean under the LIME banner, while Columbus offers cable and broadband services in a number of markets using the Flow brand. Both firms are active in the Jamaican fixed line sector – accounting for over 90% of subscribers between them – while LIME competes with Digicel in the country’s mobile market.

Digicel Group CEO Colm Delves told the Sunday Gleaner: ‘We are prepared to invest in the region, but that has to be in the knowledge that there is going to be a level playing field. I think it is important that we understand what the acquisition means because we have to make choices as to where we invest our dollars.’ He went on to add: ‘Whatever way you measure it, I think the end result of the acquisition, assuming it goes ahead, will mean that there will be virtual monopolies in fixed telephone, cable TV, on-island fibre, fixed internet broadband, and also, which is a big issue, on the off-island submarine capacity to the United States.’

Meanwhile, following a meeting at which CWC shareholders overwhelmingly approved of the Columbus deal, the UK-based telco’s CEO Phil Bentley commented: ‘We know we have to work closely with governments and regulators to ensure that our customers benefit, and that competition is not compromised – and that’s a commitment we’ve happily made to all our stakeholders, which we will uphold.’