Digicel’s Founder Steps Aside, As Debt-Heavy Company Restructures

(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – The restructuring of Digicel has been successfully completed, its founder Denis O’Brien told the Express today, as he announced that he would be stepping down as the company’s chairman and assuming a non-executive position on the board.

O’Brien, the founder of Digicel, said that Rajeev Suri will be replacing him as the organisation’s chairman, as a comprehensive board restructuring has been implemented.

He also emphasised job security for Digicel employees amid these changes.

O’Brien made the comments during an exclusive interview with Express on the sidelines of the Canto Connect and 40th Annual General Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain this morning.

“The restructuring of Digicel has been completed today. It’s been nearly an 18 months process and we are delighted now that the business has been completely restructured and it puts Digicel in a very, very strong position financially,” O’Brien said.

“It means that the business has removed a lot of debt, and a lot of the debt has been equitised as well, so it just puts the business on a very sound footing and also for investment in the future as well,” he said.

Asked what impact this may have on local operations, O’Brien said.

“No impact at all. It is business as usual. It has always been business as usual here in Trinidad and throughout the region as well. It really has not impacted the business in any way,” he said.

“We are adding new customers, adding new clients building new fiber networks to homes and businesses across the region so the future is very bright for Digicel,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien, an Irish businessman founded Digicel in Jamaica in 2001 and has served as its chairman since inception.

“As the founder I am really proud of what has been achieved by everybody working for Digicel but also to thank our customers as well and I will then take a non-executive seat at the board. And I am standing down as chairman and I am pleased to do that and also I am pleased to be handing over to somebody who I think has a lot of talent and I respect Rajeev Suri who is going to be our new chairman I think he is going to do a terrific job,” he said.

The restructuring deal at Digicel sees a consortium – led by PGIM, Contrarian Capital Management and GoldenTree Asset Management – secure a controlling stake in the company.

O’Brien said the restructuring was valued as US$1.7 billion.