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Telstra has confirmed it has been in discussions regarding a potential transaction to acquire telecommunications company Digicel Pacific in the South Pacific region, in partnership with the Australian Government.
The confirmation follows reports by media outlets The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald claiming federal government had approached Australia’s largest telco and other businesses to gauge their interest taking a stake in Digicel’s Pacific operations after concerns emerged that it may be sold to a Chinese suitor.
“Telstra was initially approached by the Australian Government to provide technical advice in relation to Digicel Pacific which is a commercially attractive asset and critical to telecommunications in the region,” Telstra told shareholders. “If Telstra were to proceed with a transaction it would be with financial and strategic risk management support from the Government.
“In addition to a significant government funding and support package any investment would also have to be within certain financial parameters with Telstra’s equity investment being the minor portion of the overall transaction,” the publicly listed telco said.
Digicel Pacific was founded in 2006 by Denis O’Brien, an Irish entrepreneur, and is a leading provider of communications services across Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.
The telco claims a strong market position in the South Pacific region, according to Telstra, generating after-tax earnings (EBITDA) of US$235 million in calendar 2020 with a strong margin, as well as extensive network coverage.
At the time of writing, no decision had made on the potential sale of Digicel to Telstra or any other entity. Telstra said it would keep the market updated as appropriate.
In early July, Telstra and fellow Australian telco TPG Telecom teamed up to ‘restack’ two bands in their combined radio spectrum holdings in a bid to boost data speeds for customers.
Broadly, the project involved the defragmentation of TPG Telecom and Telstra spectrum holdings within the 2100MHz and 1800MHz bands to achieve contiguous holdings for each of the two operators in Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra, Darwin and Hobart.
This is expected to result of the ‘restack’ in significant boost to the data speeds of the companies’ mobile customers in those cities.