O’Brien won’t sell Digicel shares yet

Telecommunicationsbillionaire Denis O’Brien has ruled out selling shares in Digicel Group Ltd to the public “at the moment”.

“We like to run our company on a private basis,” Mr O’Brien, chairman of Digicel, the Caribbean’s largest phone company, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “But we have the best practices of a public company” as Digicel sells bonds in the US and Europe, he added.

Mr O’Brien said the decision by Vodafone Group to sell its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon Communications for $130bn (€96bn) was “good news for everybody”.

“It has hit a benchmark and you can see recovery now in the value of mobile phone companies,” he said. “All the ships rising, as such.”

Digicel is the largest carrier in Haiti, one of its 31 markets in the Caribbean, Central and South America and the South Pacific. In June, the company lost out on a licence to expand telecommunications in Myanmar, one of the world’s last remaining untapped markets, even after partnering with billionaire George Soros.

“Obviously, we were crying our eyes out,” said Mr O’Brien. “But you wake up, you keep moving. We are probably going to end up having a very large tower business in Myanmar.”

Mr O’Brien said he wants to bring the Ryder Cup to his golf course in Spain, as buyers pay as much as $3m for homes at the resort.

Mr O’Brien sold about 28 properties last year in his PGA Catalunya Resort in Girona, and he expects to sell between 40 and 45 this year.

“We have a boatload” of customers, said Mr O’Brien. “These would be high-end properties anywhere from $1m up to $3m.”

“We’re going to go for the Ryder Cup,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of money on infrastructure, because unlike a lot of developers in Spain they try and do it piecemeal, we did the whole lot in one go.”

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