Sunday 23 October 2016

New Digicel appointment signals shift into broader media market

Published 18/09/2015 | 16:14

Digicel owner Denis O'Brien
Digicel owner Denis O'Brien

DIGICEL has appointed cable industry veteran Michael Willner to its group board of directors in the latest sign of the mobile telecom operator’s shift into the broader media market.

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Michael Willner, who will take up his new role in November, is the founder and former chief executive of Insight Communications, a US based cable television operator, which he sold to Time Warner in 2012.

He served twice as chairman of US industry body the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA).

The appointment comes as Digicel gets ready to fire the starting gun on an initial public offering (IPO) that could seek to raise between $1.5bn (€1.32bn) and $2bn on the New York Stock Exchange, possibly as soon as this month.

The company has not commented on the timing of any deal but was reported to be waiting for Thursday’s rate decision by the US Federal Reserve before pushing ahead with the process. 

The Fed decision to hold  interest rates unchanged is likely to be seen by analysts as supportive of so called emerging markets, including in the Caribbean and South Pacific where Digicel operates.

Businessman Denis O'Brien founded Digicel in 2001 in Jamaica. The company now operates in 31 markets and plans to use the proceeds of the IPO to fund capital spending and acquisitions as well as to pay down debt, which totalled $6.5bn at the end of June, according to company filings.

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