O’Brien’s mobile empire expands

8 Jun 2005

Denis O’Brien’s Caribbean mobile empire continued its expansion today with the news that his Digicel Group has become the first company to be awarded a license to operate a GSM network in Haiti following a tender process.

O’Brien’s Digicel competed in the tender process as part of a joint venture with Onefone, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Haitian GB Group.

With the addition of operations in Haiti, Digicel will now operate in nine countries with a total population of more than 12 million people. Digicel spans the entire Caribbean region from the Cayman Islands to Barbados and Aruba.

The company has operations in Aruba, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, Grenada, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and St Lucia and is committed to creating a seamless pan-Caribbean network. Digicel’s introduction of modern services, such as rollover minutes, prepaid roaming and Call Me free text messaging, continues to differentiate the company, while it maintains an average market share of 60pc across its countries of operation.

Commenting on the license win, O’Brien said: “This is a tremendous opportunity for Digicel for further expansion.

“This win will also enable Digicel to make an important contribution to the growth and development of Haiti economically and socially. It will result in significant job creation and Digicel fully intends to become involved in a range of sponsorships and social and community initiatives.”

O’Brien, one of Ireland’s best-known entrepreneurs, made his millions in the radio, telecoms and mobile industries and sold his Esat Telecoms and Esat Digifone mobile business to BT and O2 respectively. He is understood to among the various parties interested in acquiring Meteor and is still active in the local broadcasting markets with both 98FM and NewsTalk 106FM. His company Island Capital is also a prominent player in the local venture capital scene in Ireland.

By John Kennedy