Friday 20 April 2018

Digicel sales up 8pc to $2.78bn on 4G demand

Denis O'Brien
Denis O'Brien
Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy

Digicel, the mobile phone operator controlled by Irish billionaire Denis O'Brien, said sales jumped 8pc in the last financial year as it expanded into new markets and sold more services to smartphone users.

The company, which operates in 30 markets, said sales hit $2.78bn (€2.1bn) in the 12 months to the end of March, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation jumped 11pc to $1.2bn. Ebitda in the final quarter of the year was $318m.

The telecoms company is currently vying to expand into Burma where it has joined forces with billionaire investor George Soros's Quantum Strategic Partners and Serge Pun, a well-known business leader in the country also known as Myanmar.

That consortium, which has spent $31m on the bid so far, was short-listed earlier this month, and two licences will be granted to foreign operators later this month.

Bermuda-based Digicel said yesterday that subscribers rose 1pc to 12.9 million across the group's 30 markets in the last financial year with strong performances in Haiti, Papua New Guinea, Trinidad & Tobago and Suriname.

Data and value-added services for smartphones stood at 23pc of service revenues.

"We are very pleased with the continued growth we are seeing across our markets and with the customer response to the rollout of our 4G networks," said Digicel's chief executive Colm Delves.

The company launched 4G services in the British Virgin Islands, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago last year. It also said sales almost doubled at its business solution unit which offers advice on technology.

The company sold bonds to raise $1.3bn to refinance existing loans and for general corporate purposes. Fitch said in May that Digicel enjoyed "solid operating performance and CFO generation, diversified revenue, and the expectation for stable credit metrics" – but warned that it operates in developing countries.

Mr O'Brien, the founder of Digicel and the largest shareholder in the Irish Independent's owner, said earlier this month that he likes investing in emerging markets because they offer high returns. "I like emerging markets because they are exciting. They're high growth markets," he said.

Irish Independent

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