Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Digicel sells 70 per cent of bonds
Giving early tender results of its offer for 10.5 per cent bonds due 2018, telecommunications provider Digicel yesterday announced that it has sold more than 70 per cent as of April 1. In a release from its Jamaica head office, Digicel said it had “received and accepted for purchase US$546,499,000 aggregate principal amount, or 70.52 per cent, of its outstanding 10.5 per cent Senior Notes due 2018 validly tendered by 5 pm, New York City time, on April 1, 2014 and expects to pay for tendered notes on April 2.” In addition, the company said it had received consents from holders of 70.52 per cent of the notes as at 5 pm, New York City time, on April 1. The consents are sufficient to effect all of the proposed amendments to the indenture governing the notes as set forth in Digicel’s Offer to Purchase and Consent Solicitation Statement dated March 19.
Digicel has retained Citigroup Global Markets Inc as dealer manager and solicitation agent for the tender offer and consent solicitation. A 12-year-old operation started in the Caribbean by Irishman Denis O’Brien, the Digicel group now has more than 13 million customers across 32 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and Asia-Pacific. The company sponsors the West Indies cricket team and is also the title sponsor of the Caribbean Premier League. Digicel also runs a host of community-based initiatives across its markets and has set up Digicel Foundations in Jamaica, Haiti, Papua New Guinea and T&T which focus on educational, cultural and social development programmes.
Last Wednesday, citing a promotional document, the Irish Times reported that Digicel had paid a special dividend of US$650 million to O’Brien and the few minority shareholders who hold less than ten per cent of the company. Digicel was also reported to have plans to pay US$60 million in share option payments to senior executives of the company over the next two years.
“These details are included in a document to promote Digicel Group Ltd’s latest fundraising. The company, which acts as the overarching entity for Digicel’s operations in the Caribbean, Central America and Asia-Pacific, is seeking to raise US$1 billion from investors through a senior loan note with an eight-year maturity to be used to repay more expensive existing debt,” the Irish report said.
The dividend last month follows on from O’Brien’s takes of US$346.8 million last year, €115.9 million in 2012 and US$45.3 million a year earlier. This amounts to US$1.16 billion in less than four years. The bond document also shows Digicel’s revenues in the three months to the end of December declined to US$698.8 million from US$710.1 million for the same period of 2012.