New CEO for Haiti Digicel Telecom Company

Haiti’s largest cell phone operator and one of the Caribbean’s most profitable is getting a new chief executive officer.

Digicel Group on Wednesday announced that Damian Blackburn, head of its Honduras operations, will take over in Haiti, replacing Haiti CEO Maarten Boute. Boute has led the company’s Haiti’s operations for the past three years, and is credited with its 1.5 million jump in subscribers and 60 percent increase in revenue despite the devastation of the January 2010 earthquake, a cholera outbreak and election chaos.

Blackburn has more than 14 years experience in the telecom industry, and oversaw a dozen Caribbean markets before being tapped in 2010 to serve as CEO of Digicel’s Honduras operations. He has held senior management positions with several telecom companies including Virgin Mobile, BT Group and Vodafone in the Europe.

Boute will remain aboard until March, and plans to remain in Haiti.

…Digicel Group is owned by Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien. The company was a contributor to President Michel Martelly’s presidential campaign and is an ongoing supporter of his free education initiative. It also has invested heavily in social programs in Haiti.

In December, O’Brien celebrated the opening of Digicel’s 50th school built since the quake. The company’s foundation also agreed to build eight schools in the coming year with actor Ben Stiller’s philanthropic organization, the Stiller Foundation, as part of an ongoing goal to construct schools across the country.

Weeks earlier at an investment forum, O’Brien announced a partnership with Marriott to build a 173-room hotel in Haiti next door to its Port-au-Prince headquarters.

Wednesday’s announcement marks the second high-level change in Haiti’s telecommunications industry in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Robin Padberg, CEO of Voila, which is owned by U.S.-based Trilogy, announced his resignation from the struggling telecom company.

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