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Michael Willner to Join Digicel Board

Michael Willner, the cable industry vet and current CEO of video downloading tech firm Penthera Partners, has been appointed to the board of Digicel Group, a communications provider with operations in 33 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and Asia Pacific.

Willner’s appointment is effective Nov. 1, 2015, Kingston, Jamaica-based Digicel said.

Willner’s been president and CEO of Penthera, a vendor that has deals with several operators, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications, since 2012. Willner, the former CEO of Insight Communications (acquired by TWC in 2012), had been set to take the helm of GreatLand Connections, the MSO spinoff that was to emerge from the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. With prospects thin that the deal would gain regulatory approval, Comcast walked away from the deal in April. 

Willner’s appointment comes amid a report that Digicel, which faces off with Cable & Wireless Communications in many markets, is planning to raise up to $2 billion in an IPO as soon as this month, and that it would use the funds for capital spending, acquisitions and to pay down debt.

“The Digicel story is a fascinating one,” Willner said in a statement. “The opportunity to help it evolve from a leading provider of mobile communications into a total communications and entertainment provider and to deliver these services across some of the most vibrant countries on earth was too good to pass up. It’s a unique opportunity and one that I am relishing taking on.”

“As we continue on our journey to becoming a total communications and entertainment company, Michael’s enormous wealth and breadth of knowledge garnered from over 40 years in the cable industry will be invaluable in ensuring that the experience we offer to our customers is second to none,” added Digicel chairman Denis O’Brien. “ Michael is a fantastic addition to our Board and I am delighted to welcome him to the Digicel family.”

Willner started his career in 1974 at Vision Cable Communications, later becoming COO of the company from 1979 to 1985. He has also served twice as chairman of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and was the NCTA’s 2004 Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership, a 2005 inductee into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame, and the Cable Hall of Fame in 2008.