Management shake-up at O'Brien's Caribbean mobile group Digicel
DENIS O’BRIEN’S Caribbean mobile telecoms group Digicel is moving Mark Linehan, its chief executive for Jamaica, to another of the group’s divisions in a management shake-up.
Mr Linehan will take over as Digicel’s regional chief executive for the Eastern Caribbean South, made up of the islands of Grenada, St Lucia, and St Vincent and Grenadines.
Industry veteran Andy Thorburn will succeed Mr Linehan as chief executive of the business in Jamaica, one of its larger markets.
The move follows the failure last month of Digicel’s challenge to Jamaican telecoms regulator’s right to set interconnection charges, that is the rates that operators charge to receive or terminate calls on each other’s networks.
The region that Mr Linehan is taking over has a smaller population than Jamaica. The three island groups have a combined population of around 370,000. Jamaica has 2.7 million residents.
Both Jamaica and the eastern Caribbean region are among the biggest contributors to Digicel’s revenues, which topped the $2.5 billion mark in its last financial year.
Last month, the Jamaican Supreme Court refused to grant Digicel a judicial review of Jamaica’s telecoms regulator’s decision to set interconnection charges.
Digicel had been charging its competitor, Cable Wireless-owned Lime, JMD$9 to connect into its network, but the regulator cut this to JMD$5.
Historically, Digicel was allowed to charge its rival the higher interconnection rate to facilitate competition. When it entered the Jamaican market 11 years ago, Cable Wireless was the dominant player in the country’s mobile market.
The pair are engaged in a price war in Jamaica where they have cut both fixed-line and mobile charges recently.
They are also at loggerheads in other markets. Recently it was reported that Digicel and Lime are in dispute over sponsorship rights to a street carnival in Antigua.
In a statement detailing its management changes, Digicel said that Mr Thorburn would focus on delivering value and service to customers in his new role.
Mr Thorburn has 30 years of experience in the telecoms industry, and has worked for BT, Siemens and Intec Telecom.
Digicel Group has more than 12.8 million customers across its 30 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific.
According to its most recent figures, the group grew revenues by 14 per cent to $2.54 billion (€2.06 billion) in the 12 months to the end of March 2012.
According to a note from credit ratings agency Fitch published around the same time as the group’s results in June, Digicel had debts of $4.5 billion at the end of December 2011, which related to its operations in the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific.
The extension of an existing loan agreement in January and the issue of a $250 million bond the following month are thought to have increased its debt burden to $5 billion.
The company does not publish details of its debts.