Denis O’Brien’s Digicel pays €3.6m for Tonga Cable stake
Deal gives Irish businessman’s group 16.6% of state telecoms company
Digicel intends expanding its 4G network in Tonga
Businessman Denis O’Brien’s Digicel has bought 16.6 per cent of Tonga Cable from the island nation’s government for almost €3.6 million.
Digicel recently agreed a deal with Tonga’s government to buy shares in the state-owned telecoms operator.
The sale went through this week when Digicel Tonga handed over a cheque for the equivalent of €3.57 million in the local currency to the government.
Tonga’s government plans to use the cash to co-finance the extension of the company’s fibre optic cable to the country’s Vava’u and Ha’apai islands.
The deal also means that Digicel will become one of three shareholders in the cable company alongside the government, which has two-thirds, and Tonga Communications Corporation, which also has 16.6 per cent.
Speaking at the announcement of the deal, Digicel Tonga chief executive Ben Kealy said the investment was a step forward for its customers in the country. The company intends extending its fourth generation (4G) network to Vava’u and Ha’apai, and Tongatapu, the archipelago’s biggest island.
Mr O’Brien controls Digicel, which runs mobile networks in the Caribbean and Pacific regions. Earnings in it last financial year fell 8 per cent to $1.03 billion.
Digicel took a €44 million charge in its accounts in the year to March to cover the cost of a restructuring involving 1,500 voluntary redundancies over 18 months.