Denis O’Brien assembles Digicel consortium to pursue Myanmar mobile licence

4 Apr 2013

Denis O’Brien has assembled a consortium of investors that includes US-Hungarian billionaire businessman and philantropist George Soros and Myanmar business leader Serge Pun to secure one of two telecoms licences being offered by the government of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

Digicel is the mobile operator that Irish businessman O’Brien established in 2001 in Jamaica shortly after he successfully sold Esat Digifone to BT in 2000.

The move marks an acceleration of Digicel’s expansion into Asia after successfully growing mobile phone markets in the Caribbean and Central America and, in recent years, expanding into the Pacific.

Digicel now employs more than 5,500 people across the various geographies.

The new consortium consists of O’Brien, Soros’ Quantum Strategic Partners Ltd, and Pun, through YSH Finance Ltd.

“Digicel has been successful in entering recently liberalised markets and driving teledensity in underserved countries across the globe,” O’Brien explained.

“With current mobile penetration below 10pc in Myanmar, we are committed to rolling out a world-class telecommunications network and have submitted a pre-qualification application to the government of Myanmar.”

Soros said the liberalisation of the telecoms market in Myanmar will serve as an important economic stimulus for the country.

“I am delighted to partner with Digicel Group and Yoma Strategic Holdings to provide Myanmar with the most advanced telecommunications networks. I am confident that our consortium has the expertise and experience to deliver world-class service.”

As of 2012, Digicel’s markets comprise: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, El Salvador, Fiji, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Nauru, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks and Caicos, and Vanuatu.

Myanmar image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years