The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) has reportedly loaned Papua New Guinea’s Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC) USD88 million to facilitate the re-launch of PNG-based cellco bemobile, which is now under the new management of Vodafone Fiji. State Enterprise and Public Investment Minister Ben Micah indicated that the loan will be used to co-finance the IPBC’s 51% equity contribution in the joint venture. Mr Micah commented: ‘IPBC has been struggling over the years to maintain value and investment in bemobile with its previous partners and praises ANZ for its confidence in IPBC’s management’.
Going forward, Micah has suggested that the IPBC is also considering entering a number of new telecoms markets as it seeks to extend its regional influence. He told the Fiji Times: ‘As part of our Melanesia strategy, we plan to extend our telecommunication industry across the border to Indonesia. We [have also received] the invitation to go into the Cook Islands and Micronesia markets, as well as the northern part of the Australian Territory’.
bemobile is currently owned by PNG’s state-owned Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC, 51%), Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF, 40%) and other smaller shareholders (9%). In April 2013 Vodafone Fiji was selected to manage bemobile and its sister company in Solomon Islands.