O’Brien chooses Charlier as new chief executive of Digicel

Former executive vice-chairman joined board of telecoms group last year

Digicel chairman Denis O’Brien. Photograph: Swoan Parker/Reuters

Digicel chairman Denis O’Brien. Photograph: Swoan Parker/Reuters

 

Denis O’Brien’s telecoms group Digicel has named executive vice-chairman Jean-Yves Charlier as its new chief executive, a month after the previous holder of the role died suddenly after less than a year in the post.

Mr Charlier, who served as chief executive of Veon, formerly Vimplecom, between 2015 and 2018, was appointed as a non-executive director to Digicel last August, just before the group entered negotiations with bondholders, who were owed $3 billion (€2.62 billion), on delaying the recovery of what they are due.

On December 21st, Digicel announced that Mr Charlier had become executive vice-chairman of the group, which has operations in the Caribbean and the Pacific islands.

“Jean-Yves exceptional capacity to support continued growth was reflected in this appointment as executive director some months ago, deepening our executive team and facilitating this succession process,” Mr O’Brien, group executive chairman of Digicel, said.

Interim chief executive

Mr O’Brien had stepped in as interim chief executive on December 28th, following the sudden death of Alex Matuschka von Greiffenclau the previous day as he holidayed with his family in his native Germany. The 47-year-old had joined Jamaica-headquartered Digicel last February.

Following four months of negotiations, Digicel said earlier this month that almost 98 per cent of the holders of $2 billion of bonds due for repayment in 2020 had agreed to postpone getting their money back from the debt-laden group, by swapping their holdings for notes that will mature in 2022.

The same proportion of investors in a separate $1 billion of existing 2022 debt were persuaded to exchange their notes for ones that will be redeemed in 2024.

The group has a total borrowings of $6.7 billion.

Moody’s, one of the world’s main credit ratings firms, said that its Caa1 rating for the Digicel group, which is seven levels deep into “junk” territory, “reflects its high leverage and untenable capital structure, with the company still facing large debt maturities in the coming years and a weakening liquidity profile”.

Digicel was set up by Mr O’Brien in Jamaica in 2001, and operates in 31 markets across the Caribbean and Asia Pacific regions.