Digicel: too early to talk job cuts

Wednesday April 02, 2014 Written by Published in Technology
Paul Stafford, who will head up Digicel’s Cook Islands operation, and Frank O'Carroll, Vice President of Business Development for Digicel in Asia Pacific, are back in Rarotonga this week. 14040208 Paul Stafford, who will head up Digicel’s Cook Islands operation, and Frank O'Carroll, Vice President of Business Development for Digicel in Asia Pacific, are back in Rarotonga this week. 14040208

Digicel says it is too soon to know whether it will cut jobs at Telecom and it will need more time inside the organisation to make that decision.

Telecom NZ (TNZ) has entered into an agreement with Digicel to sell its 60 per cent shareholding in Telecom Cook Islands (TCI) for about $23 million.
The agreement is subject to a number of conditions and is expected to complete by May 31.
Telecom Cook Islands has 118 staff, of which 115 are Cook Islanders, and Opposition Party members have voiced concerns this week about whether Digicel would trim that workforce if the sale goes ahead.
Paul Stafford, who will lead Digicel Cook Islands, said it is far too soon to answer that question.
Digicel simply hasn’t spent enough time inside the business to make that assessment, he said.  
“We’re not engaged enough in the organisation yet to see what the possibility is with respect to staff and any changes that may take place.”
If the sale completes, Stafford will bring in a small team to manage the changeover, dealing with staff training and technical matters.  
He said the Telecom brand would cease to exist; the company would be fully rebranded as Digicel.
“Along with that will come further staff training and development. We’ll also be looking at how we can further enhance the education of consumers and provide them with information to help them make the most out of services.”
Another concern raised by the Opposition Party is that Digicel might end up neglecting the outer islands, which have traditionally been non-profitable for Telecom. 
“I think Digicel will be looking to cut down on Telecom’s social responsibility, like its service in the outer islands,” said Democratic Party leader Wilkie Rasmussen.
Stafford, who is currently Chief Executive of Digicel Vanuatu, said those fears are unfounded.
“We’re puzzled by those types of statements because it’s our mantra in all other 32 markets that we have the biggest network covering a very high percentage of the population. We always look at the business as a whole.”
Before the sale can take place, TNZ must offer its shares in TCI to the Cook Islands Government, which has indicated it will not be exercising its pre-emptive rights.
Another hurdle before Digicel is its need to gain approval from the Business Trade Investment Board to operate in the country.
To gain that approval, TNZ must advertise its TCI shares locally, giving Cook Islanders the chance to buy them.

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