25 Oct 2021

Telstra to acquire Digicel Pacific under Canberra-backed deal

8:01 pm on 25 October 2021

The Australian telecommunications company Telstra Corporation Limited has announced the proposed acquisition of Digicel Pacific Limited for US$1.6 billion.

The deal, which is backed by the Australian government, followed reports in Australia last year speculating that China Mobile was poised to make a play for Digicel's Pacific assets.

Telstra Australia.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Under the deal, which is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2022, Telstra Corporation Limited will own 100 percent of the Digicel Pacific operations in six countries in the Pacific including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga and Nauru.

In a statement, the Australian government said it is committed to provide a financing package through Export Finance Australia to support Telstra's acquisition, consistent with Australia's long-standing commitment to growing quality investment in regional infrastructure.

The package will include debt and equity like securities designed to secure the Government a long-term return on its financing.

The Regional CEO of Digicel Hub Markets, Shally Jannif, said that Digicel Pacific was confident in working with the Telstra team to continue increasing coverage across the region.

Telstra International CEO Oliver Camplin-Warner said that Telstra will retain the same Digicel brand.

"We'll retain the same Digicel brand that customers know and love today with the same team and the same services that customers have come to rely on", said Oliver Camplin-Warner.

"Denis O'Brien and the Digicel team have built a phenomenal business that's centred on providing exceptional customer service, the best coverage and leading digital experiences," he said.

Denis O'Brien will remain involved as a member of the Board.

A typical street scene in Nadi, Fiji

Digicel advertising is a common sight in Nadi, Fiji. Photo: RNZ / Koroi Hawkins

A joint statement welcoming Telstra's decision was issued by Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Dan Tehan, its Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, and Zed Seselja, the Minister for International Development and the Pacific.

They said Telstra's acquisition sent an important signal about the company's potential and about wider business confidence in the future of the Pacific region.

"The acquisition also reflects the Government's commitment, as part of its Pacific Step Up, to support the development of secure and reliable infrastructure in the region, which is critical to the Pacific region's economic growth and development."

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