Govt authorises Panama watchdog to take control of Digicel

3 May 2022

The Panamanian Cabinet Council, which is headed by the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo Cohen, has approved the transfer of Digicel Panama’s concession to the National Public Services Authority (Autoridad Nacional de los Servicios Publicos, ASEP). The decision was made after Digicel informed the government that it intended to apply for voluntary liquidation and withdraw from the Panamanian telecoms market. Digicel blamed its decision on the government’s decision to greenlight the proposed takeover of Claro Panama by Cable & Wireless Panama (trading as +Movil). The government says that the move will ‘guarantee the continuity of the workers and the personal communications service’. The update was published on the website for the Ministry of the Presidency on 27 April.

In related news, Millicom International Cellular – which owns Tigo Panama – has ruled itself out of a move for Digicel’s Panamanian assets. Speaking during the group’s 1Q22 earnings call last week, CEO Mauricio Ramos stressed: ‘We are not in M&A mode. We are in operational mode.’ Expanding on the theme, Ramos noted: ‘So, whether Digicel stays on or doesn’t stay on, it really doesn’t significantly change what we … are delivering on. Our focus in Panama, as elsewhere, to be very honest with you, is largely organic. We don’t want to stack ourselves with picking these [assets up] or that [company] up, because we’re driving the brand. We’re being preferred by customers. We’re driving volume, sustaining ARPU. So, we want to stay very, very focused organically.’