Antigua prepared to acquire Digicel shares

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Antigua and Barbuda has indicated that it is prepared to acquire the shares of the financially strapped Irish-owned telecommunications company, Digicel, if it is unable to provide a service there in the future.

Earlier this week, Digicel Group One Ltd, the Bermuda-based holding company, announced that it had gone into provisional liquidation there and had also filed for Chapter 15 recognition at US bankruptcy court in Manhattan.

But a spokesperson for Digicel, which operates in more than 30 markets in the Caribbean and South Pacific, said the moves would not impact the regular operations of the company and were aimed at strengthening the balance sheet.

“It’s important to point out that this will have no impact on our day-to-day operations, our staff, our suppliers, our customers or any aspect of our ongoing activities — it is business as usual,” the spokesperson said.

But the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel “Max’ Hurst, said he was confident that St John’s would be interested in acquiring the local shares of Digicial if “at some point” it indicates ‘it could continue to function normally in Antigua and Barbuda.

“I can assure you, I know the Honourable Gaston Browne (Prime Minister) well he will be the first to step forward to purchase their assets so that APUA (Antigua Public Utilities Authority) can be a more successful provider of telecommunication services.

“I can imagine what will happen thereafter, let’s wait and see and that is my guess,” Hurst added.

Digicel, is going through a major restructuring of some of the approximately US$7.4 billion of debt it carries so that it can continue operating as a going concern.

Mike Morisson, Charles Thresh and James Bennett, of KPMG, were appointed joint provisional liquidators of Digicel Group One by the Bermuda Supreme Court on April 29.

The petition for Chapter 15 recognition was lodged in US bankruptcy court for the Southern District of New York by the provisional liquidators.

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