Business Irish

Friday 19 July 2019

Digicel & Antigua talks are 'complete fiction'

Talks: Digicel denies that boss Denis O’Brien has been negotiating. Photo: Arthur Carron
Talks: Digicel denies that boss Denis O’Brien has been negotiating. Photo: Arthur Carron
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

A blistering row between Denis O'Brien's Digicel and Antigua & Barbuda's prime minister, Gaston Browne, has been reignited by the politician's claims that the twin island state is still in talks to buy the telecom company's operations there.

Digicel responded by saying claims made by Mr Browne over the past two weekends are "complete fiction" and represent "an ongoing campaign by the Government of Antigua & Barbuda to distract and disseminate false information".

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The two sides have been at loggerheads for months. Digicel secured a court order last month to stop the Antigua & Barbuda government from confiscating any of the spectrum that the telecoms company has been legally awarded there.

The government wanted to seize the spectrum and hand it over to the state-owned Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA). APUA is also the local regulator.

Digicel has used the spectrum since 2006 and has previously accused APUA of hoarding spectrum on the island nation. APUA has twice as much spectrum share there despite having less than 25pc market share.

Mr Browne has claimed that he's been involved in talks with Mr O'Brien regarding a plan to combine APUA and Digicel's operations.

"Digicel would like to make it clear that it has not received any approaches of any kind at any time from the prime minister or anyone in the government of Antigua & Barbuda with regard to a buyout of Digicel's operations in the twin island state," Digicel said in a statement this week.

The company also accused the government of "unfair, anti-competitive and illegal actions" in seeking to confiscate its spectrum.

"Digicel will fight vigorously to defend its customers and its business in the interest of fair and healthy competition in Antigua & Barbuda," it said.

Irish Independent

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