O’Brien cruises to four million Caribbean customers

10 Jan 2007

Irish entrepreneur Denis O’Brien’s mobile network firm Digicel has proved itself to be the fastest-growing mobile operator in the Caribbean, scooping up four million customers across the region, including an expansion into the Central and South American markets, representing subscriber growth of 100pc.

Digicel ended 2006 with a total investment in the Caribbean region exceeding US$1.5bn and operations in more than 22 countries.

In Haiti alone, where Digicel launched in May, the company achieved a milestone of one million customers after eight months of operation.

“Digicel’s progress in 2006 reinforced our position as the largest GSM provider in the Caribbean region with sustained growth in our existing markets and unrivalled growth through our entrance into new markets such as Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and El Salvador,” said Colm Delves, chief executive of the Digicel Group.

2006 saw Digicel trail a blaze of acquisitions through the Caribbean and Central and South American markets.

Digicel’s move into the Central and South American markets kicked off in October 2006 when the company acquired acquired El Salvador mobile operator Digicel Holdings Ltd.

In November, Digicel acquired U Mobile in Guyana and has plans to rebrand that business later this year.

In the first half of 2006, Digicel acquired Bouygues Telecom Caraibe, which extended Digicel’s operations to include Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana.

The company now employs more than 3,000 and among the technological innovations on its network are Push2Talk services, BlackBerry email services and the rollout of WiMax broadband technology.

In August, Digicel closed a US$150m bond offering to fuel strategic growth opportunities that was led by investment banks Citigroup and JP Morgan.

By John Kennedy