Digicel to make bid for Dominican Republic firm
Denis O’Brien’s company one of five bidders interested in Orange’s business
Denis O’Brien’s Digicel Group is said to be interested in making a bid for Orange’s Dominican Republic business. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
The company, seeking to expand its position as the Caribbean’s largest phone company, is one of five bidders interested in Orange Dominicana, which is expected to be sold by the end of the year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process in confidential.
The sale is expected to generate more than €1 billion.
An acquisition would give Jamaica-based Digicel control of the Caribbean nation’s second-biggest mobile-phone company, with 38 per cent of the market, trailing America Movil SAB’s 51 per cent, according to Orange.
Digicel is already the largest carrier in neighboring Haiti, one of its 31 markets in the Caribbean, Central and South America and the South Pacific.
Orange chief executive Stephane Richard said in July that the Paris-based company was examining the sale of the Dominican unit. Richard is focusing on reducing debt, cutting costs and restoring growth at home, where competition from discounter Iliad has weighed on phone bills.
Antonia Graham, a spokeswoman for closely held Digicel, declined to comment.
Olivier Emberger, a spokesman for Orange, said the company is reviewing its Dominican operation.
“As is usual practice for such a review, this includes a process in which potential buyers are invited to submit offers,” Mr Emberger said. “The group emphasizes that the sale of its activity in the Dominican Republic is only one of several options available and that no decision has been made in this respect.”
The Dominican unit reported wireless sales of €451 million in 2012, or about 1 per cent of Orange’s total revenue. The division’s sales were up 7.6 per cent from the previous year. (Bloomberg)