Telecom New Zealand has agreed to sell its interest in the Cook Islands' biggest phone and internet phone provider to global communications company Digicel for about $23 million.
Telecom announced shortly before Christmas that it was thinking about selling its 60 per cent stake in Telecom Cook Islands (TCI).
It said yesterday that it had entered into an agreement to sell this stake to Digicel. The agreement is due to be completed by the end of May.
"The sale of Telecom Cook Islands is consistent with this strategy and with our desire to focus principally on our New Zealand operations and on the needs of New Zealand customers", said Telecom chief executive Simon Moutter.
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The Cook Islands sell-down follows Telecom's scaling-back of its overseas operations last year.
During the year the company sold its Australian business unit AAPT for $493 million. It also downsized the Australian wing of Gen-i, cutting 120 jobs at the information technology business unit across the Tasman.
The Cook Islands Government, which owns the remainder of TCI, has operated it as a joint venture with Telecom since 1991.
Telecom upped its stake in TCI in 1997 to 60 per cent, paying $3 million for an additional 20 per cent interest.
The Jamaica-based Digicel, established in 2001, is active in 31 countries and has 13 million customers worldwide. It expanded into the Pacific in 2006 and has operations in Vanuatu, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Fiji and Nauru.
Digicel has made a number of previous bids to buy TCI, including in 2009 when it made a $20 million play for the telco.