Denis O’Brien mulls running fibre to Mexico, tycoon Carlos Slim’s backyard
Deep Blue Cable is mulling extending its undersea fibre link to Slim’s home country
Tycoon Carlos Slim could soon find himself in competition with the Irish businessman in his home country, Mexico. Photograph: Mohamed Azakir/Reuters
Deep Blue Cable, Denis O’Brien’s $450 million Caribbean undersea fibre start-up, is mulling an extension of its network directly on to the home turf of Mr O’Brien’s rival, Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim.
Deep Blue says it was evaluating a future landing of its planned multicountry high-speed broadband cable that would thread a slew of islands in the region, in Mexico, Mr Slim’s native market from where he built his $54 billion fortune.
Mr Slim’s America Movil has already invested $500 million in a similar undersea cable, AMX-1, delivering high-speed internet services via a landing at Cancun in his home country, Guatemala, Brazil and Puerto Rico.
AMX-1 also brings fibre services to Colombia, where Deep Blue last month confirmed it will extend its system alongside Panama. Deep Blue, which plans to be operational by 2020, will also land in Puerto Rico. And it is eyeing Cuba.
The encroachment of Mr O’Brien’s system on to Puerto Rico, Colombia and, especially, Mr Slim’s home country, would ratchet up speculation of a fresh rivalry between the two men, who previously sparred with their mobile phone networks – Mr O’Brien owns Digicel – in Jamaica and in Central America.
Deep Blue also says Mr O’Brien, who played the bond markets heavily to build up and extract value from Digicel, will decide in future whether to re-enter debt markets to raise cash for Deep Blue.
The Dublin businessman is financing Deep Blue personally, separate to his Digicel operation, although it will make landfall at several island markets in which Digicel competes, such as Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago.
In comments provided to the Gleaner publication in Jamaica, a spokeswoman for Deep Blue said: “Doubtless, throughout the construction and well into operations, the [financial] make-up will be considered and improved upon from time to time. It is not possible to say whether or not a bond will ultimately become part of the debt package, which will be a future matter for the shareholder.”