Digicel Group outlined plans to close its mobile business in Panama, claiming a recently approved merger of two local rivals spelled the end of a level playing field for smaller operators in the nation.

In a statement, the group explained Digicel Panama intends to apply for voluntary liquidation and withdraw from the country’s telecoms market.

It cited recent clearance of an acquisition of Claro Panama by Cable & Wireless Panama (CWP) as a move which “effectively spells the end of competition” for the nation’s smaller operators.

Digicel Panama indicated it repeatedly told authorities an approval of the merger without appropriate remedies would result in its exit, “as we cannot continue to fund the semblance of a three-player market”.

Reuters reported the merger would give the combined entity a 56 per cent share of the market.

Panama’s government will hold a 49 per cent stake in the merged business.

Once Digicel exits, only Millicom-owned Tigo will compete with the combined CWP-Claro group.

Digicel Group operates in 31 other markets and explained it did not expect the announcement to have a material impact on its financial condition.