Sat | Jul 20, 2019

Digicel makes net loss of US$198m in 2013

Published:Wednesday | February 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Digicel Group made a net loss of US$198 million last year, as disclosed by Fitch ratings agency in its most recent report on the telecom.

Fitch gave Digicel a stable B rating on its long-term foreign currency debt and said the outlook for the company was stable.

Digicel finances its capital programmes through debt, including bond issues.

Fitch said Digicel made a loss of US$198.491 million - the equivalent of J$20 billion - at its financial year ending March 31, 2013.

The telecom, which does not publicly disclose its financial performance, declined to comment on the matter.

"Digicel is a privately held company. We do not publish our financial results nor do we comment on media reports about our financial results," said head of group public relations Antonia Graham.

The loss was the first since 2010, when the company bled US$131.679 million. Chairman and founder Denis O'Brien has previously confirmed that he is currently seeking a special dividend from the company, which reports have put at US$650 million.

preceding good years

In 2011, Digicel made a net profit of US$43.158 million and performed even better in 2012, with US$47.233 million, according to Fitch's numbers.

Revenues increased in 2013 to US$2.777 billion, a 15.3 per cent gain over the US$2.409 billion reported the previous year. Operating profit also climbed from US$1.04 billion to US$1.19 billion in the same period.

The key drivers behind Fitch's rating of Digicel include the company's high leverage and solid operations. The company was estimated to have $5.85 billion of debt last year.

"The ratings are constrained by high leverage and exposure to low-rated countries, as about 40 per cent of its cash flow is generated from Jamaica and Haiti," the ratings agency said.

But that concern was tempered by the company's diversified operations.

Digicel "has diversified its cash-flow generation and asset base leading to lower business risk over the past several years," said Fitch, which now estimates that Papua New Guinea is the most meaningful market for EBITDA contribution, followed by Haiti and Jamaica.

Digicel operates in 31 markets worldwide. Its regional headquarters is located on the waterfront in Kingston.

richard.browne@gleanerjm.com