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Digicel subscriber base soars to 10.2 million users

Billionaire Denis O'Brien's mobile company Digicel now has more than double the number of Caribbean customers as the Irish population as its growth continues.

Digicel Ltd grew its Caribbean subscriber base by 8.6 per cent to 10.2m in the year to the end of December 2012. Company documents show Haiti toppled Jamaica as the most profitable market for Mr O'Brien's company.

Digicel is poised to refinance a block of debt through an upcoming $1bn bond offer later this month. Investor demand saw the size of the bond offer jump by 43 per cent to $1bn. The bulk of the money raised will be used to repurchase notes that are due to be repaid in 2014, extending the maturities of the mobile operators debt profile.

At the end of 2012 total debt at the O'Brien's company was a hefty €3.8bn. Digicel's net debt is around four times its EBITDA. The billionaire is a 29 per cent shareholder in INM, which is trying to reduce its borrowings to less than three times earnings."

Bond documents reveal that Haiti has now passed out Digicel's original power base of Jamaica, as the firm's most profitable market. In the six months to the end of September 2012, Haiti produced operating profits of $49.5m off sales of $277.5m. During the same period, Jamaican operations chipped in with an operating profit of $45.2m from revenues of $243m.

Total revenues rose four per cent to $549.9m in the three months to the end of December 2012, although operating profit dipped 8.3 per cent to $136.5m.

Digicel is making a major move to enter the Myanmar (formerly Burma) market. Last month, Digicel submitted an "expression of interest" to the Myanmar government seeking to operate a telecoms network in the country. The growth potential of the market is stratospheric as only 10 per cent of the population has a mobile phone.

Irish Independent