Ironically on February 22nd. (Saint Lucia’s independence) Digicel Chairman Denis O’Brien announced the company would cut up to a quarter of its workforce over the next 18 months as part of a “transformation programme.”
The statement said this would be done through a “voluntary separation programme” and would begin in March and would affect its employees across the Caribbean, South and Central America, and the Pacific. It is expected that approximately 1,625 employees, or 25% of the company’s 6,500 staff, will be cut.
In December 2016 debt analyst Michael Chakardjian suggested Digicel’s debts may be “unsustainably high” estimated at US$6.2 billion.
Last month Digicel announced that it would be embarking on a “2030 global transformation” programme in an effort to restructure its operations. The front page of the company’s website now boasts “Introducing Digicel 2030.”
In announcing its 2030 global transformation programme, the company’s website promises customers a completely new communications and entertainment experience made possible by a more agile, customer-centric application of resources and investment.
Digicel also announced that it has signed a global partnership agreement with ZTE – a leading global provider of integrated telecommunication solutions – for an ongoing multi-year network upgrade programme. The partnership agreement was signed on 9th February in Shenzhen, China, by Digicel Chairman, Denis O’Brien and Dr Zhao, Chairman and CEO of ZTE.
Meanwhile ZTE has been under investigation by the US Department of Commerce and an embargo was first imposed on its products in March 2016 when the US Department of Commerce (DoC) found evidence that the Chinese company was smuggling hardware and software to Iran through shell companies.
ZTE has so far received two reprieves from export restrictions until 29 March, 2017. Digicel’s signing of the partnership agreement suggests their confidence that a settlement with the US Department of Commerce is imminent.
No specifics on the number of Saint Lucians who will be ‘separated’ or receive packages have been given.