G+T has advised Telstra on its acquisition, in partnership with the Australian Government, of Digicel Pacific, the biggest mobile operator in the South Pacific region.

The Digicel business, which will now be owned and operated by Telstra, provides communications services across Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, with 1,700 employees who support 2.5 million subscribers.

Telstra is contributing US$270 million of equity while the Australian Government, through Export Finance Australia, is providing non-recourse debt facilities and equity-like securities totalling US$1.33 billion. The transaction is subject to obtaining regulatory approvals across the region.

Bill Spain advised Telstra on the deal, which the AFR calls Telstra’s most extraordinary deal in a generation. He was supported by Corporate Advisory partner Susannah Macknay and lawyers Maria Eger and James Soussa and graduate Jerone Wills. John Schembri, Head of Banking + Projects, in conjunction with special counsel Rachel Jones, advised on the financing aspects of the deal, supported by Lisa Hamilton. Peter Waters is advising on regulatory aspects of the deal, with a team including special counsel Tanya Macdonald and lawyers Erin Jardine, James Anthony, Chris Goutama and Sunny Lee. Other specialists across the firm included Tax partner Muhunthan Kanagaratnam, Technology partner Michael Caplan and lawyer Clare Beardall, and IP special counsel Anna Smyth and lawyer Candy Welsh.

Commenting on the transaction, Bill said "we have advised our long standing and very important client, Telstra, on a number of highly strategic deals and we were very pleased that they once again chose to entrust us to advise them on such a complex and important transaction.  As Andy Penn observed, the deal represents a very important milestone in Telstra’s relationship with the Australian Government, and it’s also consistent with its recently announced ambition for its International business, which is to drive profitable growth and value from the growing strategic significance of its international network as part of the T25 strategy. From a broader Australian national interest perspective, as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Marise Payne observed, the deal reflects the Government’s commitment, as part of its Pacific Step Up, to support the development of secure and reliable infrastructure in the region, which is critical to the Pacific region’s economic growth and development.  It will help with the region’s COVID-19 recovery and will support resilience and stability. This is fundamentally in the interests of both Australia and the Pacific region”.

Gilbert + Tobin’s Corporate team has advised on many of Australia’s largest and most innovative transactions across a broad range of industries, including recently advising PowAR consortium on its $3 billion take private of Tilt Renewables, MIRA and Aware Super on the acquisition of Vocus, and Afterpay on its proposed $39 billion acquisition by Square, Inc.. The team is recognised in the leading legal directories, including being recognised as Band 1 for Corporate/M&A by Chambers Asia-Pacific 2021.