Digicel the “Big Bully” of the Caribbean – (supposedly) By: Jefferey Gordon
(EDITOR’s NOTE: I suppose it is natural someone from either Lime or Flow would want to defend a potential merger of their services by March or thereabouts, but you should expect a few queries and not expect a media house to regurgitate prima facie… Got this from Jefferey Gordon before Christmas and fired back a few questions but never got a response, so while reading this keep your salt cellar handy you may need some hefty shakes! What did I ask? “I presume I am at liberty to use your name? Is this Barbados or another territory? Your word usage hints either overseas education or perhaps Irish yourself? Why the interest for LIME and FLOW to merge? Wouldn’t that mean prices go up again? Plus, I was surprised you used my old address and not the Professional one which is on my Website… Have we met? If so, where?“)
It is no secret that Digicel is Cable and Wireless’ biggest competitor in the Caribbean and that they have gone on an all-out assault to block and delay the people dem merger. But, imagine my utter surprise when I read Digicel’s Group CEO, Colm Delves threatens to the regulators that they “will re-examine its investment plans in Jamaica and the region if it is not happy with the terms of the buyout of Columbus International by Cable and Wireless Communications Plc (CWC)”.
Yes, I acknowledge that Digicel has contributed economically and socially to the region as they not only provided telecom services and products as well as employment and support for many social ventures, but does this warrant this “bullying” behaviour? The Caribbean has significantly funded most of their other investments. At the end of July they paid over US $600M in dividends to Denis O’Brien. Wow! They give some and take a lot.
Since the announcement of the pending merger, Digicel has been vociferously calling this proposed deal a monopolistic move. They say it will result in the death of competition within the region, if it is permitted.
As far as I understand the regional regulators and governments are working assiduously to review and analyse this CWC/Columbus proposed deal. The Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) has even stated, that they are joining with the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) to analyse the impact of the proposed US$3 billion acquisition of Columbus. Thus, the relevant authorities are exercising due diligence with respect to this CWC/Columbus merger and looking out for the region … so why is Digicel bent on issuing threats to them?
I believe that there is still more market share that Digi can go after and there is still opportunity for vibrant competition. Digicel’s bullying tactics and threat of withdrawal of their investments really shows them up as the “bigger bully” of the Caribbean. We recognise a threat when we see one.