Expanding the Telstra family with Digicel Pacific

Today we have announced the exciting news that we have partnered with the Australian Government to acquire Digicel Pacific, the biggest mobile operator in the South Pacific region.
Andrew Penn · 25 October 2021 · 2 minute read

FOOTAGE: Telstra CEO Andy Penn is sitting against a brick wall with greenery in the background, wearing a suit jacket with a white button-up shirt with the collar undone. He’s speaking directly to the camera. 

ANDY: Hi there. It’s a really exciting day today with the announcement that Telstra has partnered with the Australian government to acquire Digicel Pacific. This is a very unique and attractive opportunity for us. Digicel Pacific is the number one telco in Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu and it’s the number two in Fiji. Their 1700 employees support around 2.5 million subscribers from retail customers through to large enterprises. 

FOOTAGE: Andy continues to speak to the camera as he articulates, gesturing with his arms as he talks about the Digicel Pacific deal. 

ANDY: Beyond the economics of the deal, the business aligns with Telstra’s core strengths and our decades of experience with providing international connectivity in the Pacific region. This will also strengthen our role as a provider of voice, data and ICT services to the region. Digicel Pacific and Telstra are also well aligned on our respective commitments to build a connected future so everyone can thrive, and this includes supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.  

ANDY: This deal is a win for our shareholders, and an important milestone in Telstra’s relationship with the Australian government. When the transaction ultimately completes, which we expect to be in the next three to six months, Digicel Pacific will be run as a separate business within our International division. So we’re very much looking forward to welcoming the Digicel Pacific team into the Telstra family. Thank you.

Update, 14 July 2022: we have now completed the acquisition of Digicel Pacific. I’m looking forward to more great work from our new, combined team.

Australia has deep personal, historical and cultural ties with the Pacific, forged over decades of sustained engagement, and Telstra, via our International team has been doing business there for decades.

In fact, our mobile network in the Torres Strait Islands is just off the coast of Papua New Guinea, Digicel Pacific’s largest market.

This is a unique and very attractive commercial opportunity for Telstra to boost our presence in the region.

With 1700 employees and around 2.5 millio subscribers from retail customers through to large enterprises, Digicel Pacific is the number one telco in Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, and number two in Fiji. The business generated EBITDA of $US233 million for the financial year ended 31 March 2021 with a relatively high EBITDA margin of 54 per cent.

Beyond the economics, this acquisition also makes sense for a number of reasons.

Strong alignment with our core strengths

Telstra has decades of experience providing international connectivity in the Pacific. In fact, we are one of the biggest providers of voice and data services connecting the South Pacific to the rest of the world through our Southern Cross subsea cable.

Telstra has also been a licensed operator in Papua New Guinea since 2012 and we already provide connectivity and technology services to a number of large enterprises there.

And of course, we are very experienced in delivering and operating mobile networks that cover some of the remotest parts of Australia – from the coast, to the outback and the Torres Strait Islands.

Partnering with Government

The Australian Government is strongly committed to supporting quality private sector infrastructure investment in the Pacific region and we’ve previously partnered with them on the Coral Seas Cable which connects Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Australia.

For Digicel Pacific, Telstra will contribute $US270 million in equity, and the Government, through Export Finance Australia will contribute $US1.33 billion to the $US1.6 billion purchase price. The Government will also provide us with strategic risk management support. Telstra will own 100 per cent of the ordinary equity.

Delivering on our growth ambitions

On completion of the deal, Digicel Pacific will be run as a separate business within our International division – this will include maintaining separate P&L and IT systems.

We will also retain the same Digicel brand that its customers across the Pacific region know and love, and the Digicel Pacific management team will continue the day-to-day running of the business.

At our recent T25 strategy launch we announced that the ambition for our International business is to deliver profitable growth and value by leveraging the growing strategic significance of our international network – today’s announcement represents an important initiative in the delivery of this ambition.

Expanding the Telstra family

Telstra and Digicel Pacific have many things in common, including our company purpose and values – what we stand for and the impact we have on our local communities.

Digicel Pacific has made significant investments in community development programs across Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. Like the incredible work done by our Telstra Foundation, this is important activity that we are committed to continuing.

We look forward to welcoming Digicel Pacific to the Telstra family.


By Andrew Penn

Former Chief Executive Officer

Andy Penn became the CEO and Managing Director of Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications company, on 1 May 2015. At Telstra, Andy is leading an ambitious change program transforming the business to be positioned to compete in the radically changing technology world of the future with 5G at its core. Andy has had an extensive career spanning 40 years across 3 different industries - telecommunications, financial services and shipping. He joined Telstra in 2012 as Chief Financial Officer. In 2014 he took on the additional responsibilities as Group Executive International.

Prior to Telstra, Andy spent 23 years with the AXA Group, one of the world’s largest insurance and investment groups. His time at AXA included the roles of Chief Executive Officer 2006-2011 AXA Asia Pacific Holdings, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Executive Asia and Chief Executive Australia and New Zealand.  At AXA, Andy was instrumental in building one of the most successful Asian businesses by an Australian company that was sold to its parent in 2011 for more than A$10bn.

Other directorships & appointments: Member of the Council of Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria; Board Director of the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA); Chairman of the Australian Government’s Cyber Industry Advisory Panel, created to guide development of Australia’s 2020 Cyber Security Strategy; Patron, on behalf of Telstra, of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Awards (NATSIAA); Life Governor of Very Special Kids and an Ambassador for the Amy Gillett Foundation. He serves on the advisory boards of both The Big Issue Home for Homes and JDRF.

Recognition and qualifications: MBA (Kingston), AMP (Harvard), FCCA, HFAIPM. Andy has a national diploma in business studies (with distinction), is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants, holds an MBA from Kingston University and is a graduate of Harvard’s Advanced Management Program. In 2008 Andy was recognised as Insurance Executive of the year in the Australian Banking and Finance Awards and in 2016 he was made an honorary fellow of the Australian Institute of Project Management. In 2018 Andy was named by the Financial Times among the top 10 male leaders globally HERoes list supporting women in business. In 2019 he was named by the Australian Financial Review as among the top 10 most powerful people in business.

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