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Business briefs: Digicel Pacific “an attractive asset”

The CEO of Australian telco Telstra says Digicel Pacific is an attractive asset.

Andy Penn has told the Australian Financial Review that talks continue on potentially acquiring Digicel Pacific.  “We would only do it if we believed it was in the best interests of our shareholders,” Penn said. Telstra’s AUD$2bn (US$1.4 billion) bid for Digicel Pacific would be backed with a loan from the Australian government.

Digicel operates in PNG, Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga, Nauru and Fiji. However Chinese-owned telco operators, including China Mobile and ZTE, are also reportedly interested in buying the operation, which has 3G and 4G mobile phone networks and access to undersea cables.

“Telstra was initially approached by the Australian government to provide technical advice in relation to Digicel Pacific, which is a commercially attractive asset and critical to telecommunications in the region,” said Telstra in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange.

Fiji job ads down 63% in 2021

Fiji’s Reserve Bank says there has been some pick up in economic activity “as more businesses and citizens adapted to the COVID-19 environment.”

In its July review, the RBF says indicators of consumption spending such as net VAT collections (down 18.2%), new consumption lending, new vehicle registrations and electricity consumption have all declined however, ” as more people have become unemployed or have had their wages and hours worked reduced.”

Job advertisements plunged by 63% in the first half of this year.

While resource production (gold, timber, woodchips and mahogany) was up, electricity generation, cement production and visitors arrivals all declined cumulative to June.

The RBF says investment spending also registered sluggish outcomes in the year to June, with lower lending to real estate and the building & construction sectors. “The economic uncertainty and mandatory COVID-19 protocols are anticipated to suppress investment plans further in the coming months,” the Bank states.

The annual inflation rate edged up from -1.6 percent in May to zero percent in June as the higher prices of food, transport, housing, and fuel perfectly offset the decline in prices of alcohol, tobacco, yaqona and other items. The rising global food and crude oil prices, along with high freight costs, has started to filter into domestic prices.

Fiji Investment Committee seeks to cut red tape

There are approximately 90 projects valued at F$1.8 billion pending with Fijian agencies, and the Investment Facilitation Committee is hoping to cut the red tape so they can get underway. The Committee, chaired by the Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, Shaheen Ali, says: “These investments are critically important now, as we are shaping our economic recovery. If the Committee is able to unlock these investment projects, we will change the economic landscape of Fiji.”

 
The Investment Facilitation (Core) Committee is comprised of Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, as chair and secretariat, Reserve Bank of Fiji, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources, Ministry of Local Government, iTaukei Lands Trust Board and Investment Fiji. 
 
From the stockmarket

Paradise Beverages (PBL) will be removed from the South Pacific Stock Exchange listings today after Coca Cola Amatil (Fiji) completed compulsory acquisition of 100% of PBL’s shares.

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Free Bird Institute has been given approval to bring another cohort of students into Fiji. They are expected to arrive in September on an Air New Zealand charter flight.

“Despite the escalating COVID-19 situation in Fiji, we are excited that we continue to have interest from potential students to come and study in Fiji”, said Chief Operating Officer Mereseini Baleilevuka.

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