Telstra chief Penn in country for Digicel acquisition talks


TELSTRA chief executive officer Andrew Penn is in Papua New Guinea for discussions around the acquisition of Digicel PNG, according to the company.
Responding to queries from The National, a company spokesman said Penn was in the country as part of the approval and transition process around the Digicel deal.
Although specific details of the meeting could not be provided, it is understood Penn had met with Digicel PNG representatives and also had a meeting with Prime Minister James Marape and Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey on Monday.
Telstra, backed by the Australian government, wants to buy the entire Digicel Pacific operations for US$1 billion (about K5.5 billion).
Last year, it had submitted a clearance application to the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) for approval for the proposed acquisition of Digicel (PNG) Ltd and its wholly-owned subsidiaries in PNG.
Earlier this month, the ICCC in a draft determination decision, approved the sale on the grounds that it would not lessen competition in the telecommunications market.
Marape said Telstra’s acquisition of Digicel Pacific was a commercial transaction that had been concluded under the present regulatory environment which encouraged investments in the sector.
“Our government remains steadfast in its determination to further liberalise our communications market, through increased competition,” Marape said.
He also asked Telstra to consider future ownership structures which could represent strong and reputable participation of Papua New Guinea institutions and investors, leveraging off on the strong branding that Telstra brought to the market, and on commercial terms.
“We have invested heavily in communications because of the benefits through the development of more affordable, reliable and accessible networks,” he said.