Denis O’Brien’s Digicel to focus on fostering ‘right culture’

Telecom restructures management teams as it seeks a return to growth

Denis O’Brien. Photograph:  The Irish Times

Denis O’Brien. Photograph: The Irish Times


Denis O’Brien’s telecoms company Digicel is to focus on corporate governance and fostering “the right culture” following restructuring designed to bring about a return to growth.

Digicel, which operates in 31 markets across the Caribbean, central America and the Pacific islands, last year set about cutting more than 1,500 jobs, or 25 per cent of its staff, in an effort to reboot earnings and lower the burden of its $6 billion-plus debt pile.

The company has now unveiled a new group senior management team and a leaner structure from top to bottom that it said would see it “right-sized for future success”.

The new management team comprises chief financial officer Ray Leclercq; chief people officer Chris Severson; chief legal, regulatory and external affairs officer Tristan Gilbertson, and chief operations officer Hussain Suliman.

Cluster structure

Digicel’s six large markets will report directly to chief executive Alexander Matuschka, who took the reins at the start of February, with the remaining markets also reporting to him via a cluster structure.

“With clusters comprising four to six markets of smaller size but with similar characteristics and market drivers, the cluster markets will benefit from closer proximity, guidance and support from senior management,” the company said.

Mr Matuschka said there were three areas the company needed to focus on in order to get back to growth.

“Put simply, they are the right organisational structure, the right governance and the right culture,” he said. “With these in place and working effectively, we will be successful.

“It’s a very exciting time for us. We are at an inflection point in the business and in our industry – and having met some of the wonderful talent in our organisation, I am confident that we can deliver on our goals.”

Speaking in January, Mr O’Brien said it may be another 12-18 months before he looks again at trying to float the company. He pulled a planned initial public offering of shares in October 2015.

He indicated that he may look, instead, in the near term at opportunities to refinance Digicel’s debt.