Pan-Caribbean and Pacific mobile operator Digicel is once again studying the possibility of buying Telecom New Zealand’s majority interest in Telecom Cook Islands (TCI), the New Zealand Herald reports. Telecom New Zealand announced shortly before Christmas that it was thinking about selling its 60% stake in TCI, which is currently operated as a joint venture with the Cook Islands government, and while a spokesman for the parent telco would not comment on potential buyers, Cook Islands finance minister Mark Brown told local media that Digicel Pacific was looking into buying the shares. The minister was quoted by Cook Islands News as saying, ‘Digicel is back on the beach, they’re kicking the tyres again. They’ll probably make an offer to Telecom New Zealand.’ Digicel has made a number of previous bids to buy TCI, including a NZD20 million (USD16.5 million) offer for the full-service telco in 2009. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that in February that year the government confirmed its intention to sell a stake in TCI to Digicel, but no further developments followed.
Telecom New Zealand has participated in TCI’s ownership and management since 1991 when the joint venture succeeded Cable & Wireless as the islands’ incumbent telco, and the New Zealand firm upped its stake in 1997 to 60%, paying NZD3 million for an additional 20% equity. Digicel, which is active in 31 countries, expanded into the Pacific in 2006, with a current presence in Vanuatu, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Fiji and Nauru.