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Summary of Project Information (SPI)
This Summary of Project Information is prepared and distributed to the public in advance of the IFC Board of Directors’ consideration of the proposed transaction. Its purpose is to enhance the transparency of IFC’s activities, and this document should not be construed as presuming the outcome of the Board decision. Board dates are estimates only.
Unigestion Holdings S.A.
Date SPI disclosed
January 31, 2006
Projected board date
March 1, 2006
Invested: June 16, 2006
Signed: May 31, 2006
Approved: May 15, 2006
Description of company and purpose of project
Digicel Limited (Digicel or the sponsor) is a provider of GSM mobile telephone services which entered the Jamaican market in early 2001. Since then Digicel has expanded into fifteen countries including Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago. Digicel is the fastest growing wireless operator in the Caribbean and distinguishes itself from incumbents through competitive tariffs as well as superior quality, functionality and service.
The proposed project will finance the rollout of a mobile cellular telephone network in the Republic of Haiti by Unigestion Holdings S.S, an operating subsidiary of New Holdco (St. Lucia IBC) (“the company”), a Digicel holding company. Unigestion is 70% owned by Digicel, with the remaining stake held by local partner, GB Group S.A. The project is expected to approximately cost $130 million.
Project sponsor and major shareholders of project company
The project’s main sponsor is Dennis O’Brien, who owns a majority stake in the company. He has had a variety of successful experiences with telecommunications projects worldwide. Most notable of these are Digicel’s current operations in the Caribbean, and his highly competitive telecommunications business in Ireland called Esat, which was ultimately acquired by British Telecom for $2.5 billion in 2001. The minority shareholders in Digicel include Mr. Leslie Buckley, Directors and Staff.
Total project cost and proposed IFC investment
The total project cost is estimated at approximately $130 million. The proposed IFC investment is a $15 million senior loan for IFC’s own account.
Location of project and description of site
The project will be headquartered in Haiti and will provide nationwide GSM services to both urban and rural areas of the country.
Project Development Impact and IFC's Role
The project involves the rollout of a nationwide GSM cellular network in the Republic of Haiti, offering a wide range of standard and value added mobile services including mobile Internet (GPRS), per second billing and international roaming.
Given the depressed nature of the Haitian economy and the poor state of existing telecommunications infrastructure, the Project will have a significant development impact to both individuals and businesses in Haiti. Telephone density in Haiti is the lowest in the Latin American and Caribbean region. As of September 2005, the mobile penetration rate was 4.43%, while fixed line penetration averaged less than two telephones per 100 inhabitants. Digicel will help to improve both the quality and availability of telecommunications services in Haiti.
Further, Digicel will also increase competition in the sector. Prior to 1998, TÚlÚcommunications d’Ha´ti (Teleco, the state telecommunications company) was the sole telecommunications operator. Since then, two private providers, Haiti Telecommunications International (HaiTel) and Comcel, have entered the market, providing both fixed and mobile services. The entry of Digicel will spur further competition, thus reducing tariffs and increasing coverage and quality.
By supporting this Project, IFC will provide long term funding in a priority frontier market in which private financing from local and international commercial banks is scarce. IFC’s investment in the new network will help an emerging competitive market to develop, increasing telecommunications usage nation-wide, improving the efficiency of the business sector and increasing connectivity between Haiti and the global community.
IFC has previously supported two successful projects with the Digicel group:
- Mossel Limited (“Mossel”), Digicel’s mobile GSM subsidiary in Jamaica (2001) and
- Digicel Eastern Caribbean Limited (DECL), Digicel’s GSM mobile subsidiary in the Eastern Caribbean region (2003).
IFC’s combined debt and equity disbursements to both projects totaled $62 million. Both financings were fully repaid in October 2004.
Environmental and social issues - Category C
Based on the available information, this is a category C project according to IFC's environmental and social review procedure. For IFC's previous investments with Digicel in Jamaica and the Eastern Caribbean, Digicel was required to implement an environmental and social management system (ESMS) consistent with local standards and relevant IFC policies and guidelines, and provide to IFC annual environmental and social monitoring reports (AMRs), which was done to IFC's satisfaction. For the proposed project in Haiti, IFC will require implementation of an ESMS similar to the one under IFC's previous investments with Digicel, and provide to IFC AMRs for the duration of IFC's investment.
To contact the project company, please write to:
The Dyoll Building,
40 Knutsford Blvd.,
Kingston 5, Jamaica W.I.
Telephone: +1 876 5115186
Fax: +1 876 9607217
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