Business Irish

Monday 5 December 2016

Digicel outlook positive as Bolt signs as 'Speed Chief'

Published 26/08/2016 | 02:30

Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates winning the Men's 200 Metre final at Olympic Stadium at the Rio Olympic Games
Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates winning the Men's 200 Metre final at Olympic Stadium at the Rio Olympic Games

Currency volatility hit earnings at Digicel in the first quarter of the year but the company said it remains positive as it capitalises on recent investment.

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According to a report by Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources, Digicel's first quarter adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) dropped 8pc as a result of currency swings.

Stripping away the effects of currency volatility, earnings rose 5pc at the Denis O'Brien-owned company, which provides mobile phone and communications services in 31 countries, mainly across islands in the Caribbean and Pacific.

Subscriber numbers are understood to have increased to 13.9 million in the period, up from 13.7 million.

"Digicel doesn't publish quarterly earnings but we're very pleased with underlying Q1 performance in local currency. Digicel's outlook remains positive as we monetise our substantial network investment of recent years," a Digicel spokesperson said.

That investment includes a diversification into segments including cable TV, broadband, business solutions and cloud services in addition to Digicel's established mobile phone businesses. It has translated into growth of over 100pc year on year in Cable TV and broadband, it's understood. Data growth is up 7pc, while the Business Solutions business is up 20pc.

According to Bloomberg, the currency effects mean Digicel's adjusted net debt to earnings ratio increased in the period to the end of June.

In dollar terms the overall debt figure is understood to be lower in the period, however.

Meanwhile, Digicel has appointed Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt as its "chief speed officer", following his latest success on the track. The job-for-life will see Bolt engage with customers from both a commercial and community point of view.

Digicel has sponsored Bolt since 2004, just after he left school.

In his new role, the world's fastest man will also help mentor young athletes.

"I'm very humbled. It's been an amazing journey with Digicel - they have been there for me since I was 17 years old and now we will be together forever.

"As Digicel CSO, I am opening a new chapter and will be making it my mission to ensure that speed stays at the top of the agenda," Bolt said after the appointment.

Irish Independent

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