Digicel to be vice-chaired on the double

Move at Denis O’Brien’s Jamaican telco raises questions over Leslie Buckley

Digicel has just emerged successfully from months of delicate talks with lenders over a $2 million bond swap. Photograph: iStock

Digicel has just emerged successfully from months of delicate talks with lenders over a $2 million bond swap. Photograph: iStock

 

The appointment of Jean-Yves Charlier as the new executive vice-chairman of Digicel, Denis O’Brien’s Jamaican telco, raised the pertinent question as to what it could mean for Leslie Buckley, the company’s existing vice-chairman.

It appears that this particular Caribbean town really is big enough for the both of them.

Sources confirmed that Buckley, who is currently at the centre of a State investigation into a swathe of allegations at INM, which he chaired until he stepped down in March, is due to remain on at Digicel.

Digicel has just emerged successfully from months of delicate talks with lenders over a $2 million bond swap. The group convinced its bondholders to extend the maturities on their loans, in return for moving up the ranks in terms of the seniority of their secured claims on the group.

Meanwhile, for two years Buckley has barely been out of the news in Ireland over the multi-headed hydra that has become the State investigation into INM, where it is alleged he oversaw a secret operation by outsiders to “interrogate” staff data, including emails.

Buckley has always denied any wrongdoing at INM, and said he will defend himself “against each and every allegation”.

Colourful story

Nevertheless, the repeated mentioning of Digicel’s long-serving vice-chairman, and O’Brien’s closest ally, in the context of such a colourful story is likely to have been noticed abroad, even in the rarefied towers inhabited by corporate bond investors.

Sources insist Buckley’s status as one of the protagonists of the INM saga never emerged as an issue in discussions with Digicel bond investors. So he will be staying on, despite Charlier’s ascension to an executive version of Buckley’s role.

O’Brien, meanwhile, will have good cause to enjoy his turkey and ham over the Christmas period, having nailed down a bond deal that many market observers were sceptical could be achieved.

He must have experienced an awkward 2018, owing to the uncomfortable spotlight shone on anybody connected in any way to the story at INM.

He may be hoping that 2019 is somewhat quieter on that front. Although, with the first report of High Court inspectors into INM due in the spring, that appears unlikely.

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