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Digicel, LIME parent said to be eyeing Orange in DomRep market

Published:Sunday | November 10, 2013 | 12:00 AM

An opportunity to break into the mobile market in the Dominican Republic (DR) and to win 3.3 million new customers is available with the pending sale of Orange Dominicana, for which Digicel and Cable & Wireless Communiciations (CWC) are reported to be among five prospective buyers.

But amid unconfirmed reports that Digicel Group had put together a euro1 billion proposal, Orange Dominicana said Thursday that a sale of the business though possible, was not definite.

"As previously announced, the group is currently conducting an asset review of its operations in the Dominican Republic. As is usual practice for such a review, this includes a process in which potential buyers are invited to submit offers," read a statement from the French-owned company.

"However, the group emphasises that the sale of its activity in the Dominican Republic is only one of several options available and that no decision has been made in this respect."

The company is the second-largest mobile-network operator in the DR and is estimated to have almost 40 per cent of the market.

Orange is a French international mobile-network operator previously called France Telecom.

It has been reported that the company is seeking to concentrate on core markets such as Europe and Africa and to possibly offload non-core companies in an attempt to improve its finances.

Orange Dominicana is the French company's only major asset in Latin America.


Digicel Group acknowledged the queries, but spokeswoman Antonia Graham said the company had "no comment to make in this instance".

LIME Jamaica said it could shed no light on the intentions of ultimate parent CWC, and there was no response from CWC in London or its regional operation LIME Caribbean in Barbados up to press time.

The buyer of Orange Dominicana would gain almost 40 per cent of the market in the Spanish-speaking republic, behind market-leader America Movil SAB, through its Claro brand, which reportedly has about a 50 per cent share. A win by Digicel would ramp up rivalry between the two telecoms again after their deal two years ago that saw America Movil's Claro retreating from Jamaica and Digicel giving up its Honduras market. A similar deal for El Salvador was nixed by the telecoms regulator in that country.

Orange Dominicana reported wireless sales of euro451 million in 2012, or about one per cent of Orange's total revenue, according to a Bloomberg report.

The DR has a mobile penetration rate of 86.9 per cent according to data compiled by the Dominican Telecommunication Institute.