Digicel Samoa coy about possible job losses

By Ilia L. Likou ,

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CHIEF CUSTOMER OFFICER: Deepak Khanna.

CHIEF CUSTOMER OFFICER: Deepak Khanna. (Photo: File)

Digicel Samoa remains optimistic in the wake of the announcement that its parent company is shedding more than 1,500 jobs all over the world.

The announcement was made by the company’s Irish owner, Denis O’Brien, last week as the company moves to deal with its €6.2 billion debt, which credit analysts had labelled “unsustainable”.

Contacted for a comment, Chief Customer Officer, Deepak Khanna, told the Sunday Samoan that it is business as usual for their local operation.

Asked how many employees in Samoa are likely to lose their jobs, Mr. Khanna said that since the jobs reduction announced by Mr. O’Brien is a global programme, “we can’t give market specifics.”

But he is optimistic about the future.

“Our future market structure will comprise a small number of regional hubs (two for the Caribbean and Central America regions and two for the Pacific region) housing back office centralised functions and delivering shared services,” he said in a statement. 

“This means that staff in our 31 markets will be focused on sales and enhanced service delivery and resources and investment are prioritised to drive competition and innovation. This will result in an approximate 25% reduction of the global workforce over the next 18 months." 

“Since it’s a global programme, we can’t give market specifics.”

There are positive spinoffs in the move.

“On the plus side, Digicel is one of the first communications and entertainment providers in the world to initiate a wide scale transformation agenda,” he said. 

“We are building Digicel for 2030 and beyond. Our transformation programme sees us taking the bull by the horns and daring to be different by challenging the status quo and by innovation-led growth. That’s what we are known for and that’s what we will continue be known for into the future."

“Over the years, we have built a great company with a proud legacy of democratising communications and making an impactful contribution to countries and people across the globe." 

“Now we’re on a mission to build Digicel for the future with our sights set on delivering a superior superfast network experience and putting our customers in control.”

According to a statement issued earlier this week by Mr. O’Brien, Digicel intends taking the first step in reducing its workforce on March 1st when it will open an “enhanced” voluntary redundancy deal.

According to the Irish Times, the company did not say how much it hopes to save from the move, or any of the other measures that it intends adopting in its restructuring programme, which it has dubbed Digicel 2030.

The company owes its creditors €6.2 billion, more than six times its earnings, which have been in decline for almost three years. 

Its executives want to cut this liability to about 4½ times what Digicel earns.

Its problems are complicated by the fact that its sales are in a number of different currencies whose exchange rates have been falling against the dollar, in which most of Digicel’s debts are denominated.

Last December, Michael Chakardijan, an analyst with US research firm, Creditsights, warned at a conference that Digicel’s debt was so high that it left little room for underperformance. The company responded by saying that it fundamentally disagreed with this.

Around the same time it hired financial consultants McKinsey and Goetzpartners to advise it on cutting its debts and on how to tackle its falling earnings. The redundancies and other measures outlined in Wednesday’s announcement resulted from this.

Read more:

Digicel bonds up on plan to slash costs

Denis O’Brien’s Digicel faces a cocktail of risks


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