Digicel Group cuts net loss for first quarter 2015

The group recorded a net loss of US$31.4 million for its June first-quarter 2015, or 40 per cent better than a year ago.

The big saving came with the reduction in finance costs at US$129.9 million compared with US$184.6 million a year ago.

“[Finance costs declined] mainly as a result of no redemption premiums or deferred financing fees expensed on the redemption of debt being recognised for the three months ended June 30, 2015, compared to US$59.9 million being recognised for the three months ended June 30, 2014,” Digicel explained.

Revenues totalled US$669.7 million or 1.3 per cent less than a year ago, led by declines in the French West Indies, Papua New Guinea, El Salvador, Haiti and Jamaica. These declines were mainly due to exchange rate movements in all the territories mentioned – except El Salvador which suffered from a rate reduction and increased competition.

Revenues in all three of its major markets declined, including Haiti down 4.1 per cent to US$113.8 million; Papua New Guinea down by 7.0 per cent to US$112.7 million; and Jamaica down 2.7 per cent to US$98.6 million. Despite the revenue decline, Digicel’s total mobile subscribers increased by 2.3 per cent to 13.6 million as at June 2015.

“New additions of subscribers for the three months ended June 30, 2015 were 300,000, largely as a result of subscriber growth in Haiti and Papua New Guinea, compared with 100,000 net reductions for the three months ended June 30, 2014.

The company operates in 24 Caribbean markets, six in the South Pacific, and two in Central America.

The group, controlled by Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien, as at June 2015 listed its total debt at US$6.53 billion – far higher than its US$4.62 billion in total assets, financials indicated.

“Digicel is in the process of evolving from a pure mobile telecommunications company into a leading total communications and entertainment provider, while remaining focused on improving its competitive position in each of its markets by providing customers with access to better mobile technology, more innovative products, a superior customer experience, and better value compared to Digicel’s competitors,” stated Digicel.

Digicel posted a US$157.6-million, (J$18.2-b) net loss for its March 2015 year end as its subscriber base and total revenues remained flat. The group, earlier this year, announced preliminary plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange. Digicel intends to use the net proceeds of its initial public offer for general corporate purposes, including capital expenditure, acquisitions, and to repay existing indebtedness. The company has not revealed a timeline for listing.

O’Brien founded Digicel in October 2000 and launched its initial mobile operation in Jamaica in April 2001, then quickly spread into other territories. Digicel Group now holds interest in some 143 subsidiaries with most owned 100 per cent by the group.


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