Digicel boss reportedly receives big payout

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday June 28, 2012 – Following on the announcement earlier this month that the Digicel Group Limited grew its operating profit to a record US$1.08 billion, reports are coming from international sources that its owner is reaping a significant return on his investment.

Both Bloomberg News and the Irish Sunday Times have reported that Irish telecommunications billionaire Denis O’Brien received a special dividend worth US$300 million from the Digicel Group for the year ending March 31, 2012.

The chairman and founder of the Digicel Group reportedly received a US$115 million dividend from Digicel for the previous year and took US$800 million from the business in a refinancing in 2008, when he took full control of the company, which has operations across the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific, the Sunday Times said.

The most recent special dividend payment was disclosed in an analyst conference call this month, the report said. James Morrissey, a spokesman for O’Brien, reportedly declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News.

Earlier this month, the Digicel Group reported that its revenues from 30 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific, increased 14 per cent to US$2.54 billion and its subscriber base rose 27 per cent to 12.8 million.

“The results announced today reflect the continued growth and development of Digicel in the Caribbean, Central America and Asia Pacific,” said O’Brien in a press release.

Digicel advised that up to March its value added services and data revenues were up 47 per cent and now account for 20 per cent of overall service revenues. This growth was supported, in part by Digicel’s 4G mobile offering, which is now available in 14 markets across the globe – with further rollouts planned – and by the rise in smartphone usage.

Digicel’s balance sheet and liquidity position has continued to improve with cash reserves of more than US$657 million.

“Digicel has closed out another strong year in which, for the first time in our 11 year history, our annual EBITDA was over US$1 billion,” said group CEO, Colm Delves.

Digicel has said to have invested more than US$4.5 billion in 30 markets since its formation and employs in excess of 4,700 people worldwide. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)