El Salvador

Digicel to strengthen Caribbean focus

Bnamericas Published: Saturday, July 23, 2022

After the US$1.6bn sale of its Pacific unit, Digicel is focusing on the Caribbean and El Salvador. 

The company is exiting Panama, where C&W Panamá's acquisition of Claro has led to market dynamics Digicel considered uncompetitive.

In the Caribbean, Digicel expects a post-pandemic scenario of stable and growing markets. 

After signing a joint declaration with intergovernmental organization Caricom and Flow to facilitate a Caribbean single market initiative via the reduction of roaming charges, Digicel unveiled new roaming packages for Trinidad and Tobago.

Fitch expects sales in the Caribbean to reach US$2bn in 2025, compared to US$1.7bn in 2021.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines selected Digicel as connectivity partner in a five-year deal. Digicel will provide 300Mbps wireless internet in 116 locations, including community and learning centers, and tourism sites, local press reported. 

During his keynote at the industry’s Canto 2022 event, CEO Denis O’Brien also announced participation in a slavery reparation plan for Caribbean countries. European countries will feed a reparations fund to finance agriculture, health and education projects.

Digicel aims to confront financial issues and reduce its debt to US$4.6bn with the early redemption of US$1.1bn in bonds.

Fitch said in May that “there is a low margin of safety for the company, and a default and/or default-like process is a real possibility.” Yet, “the group’s US$2.4bn in capex since financial year 2015 should ensure network competitiveness.”

Digicel reported growth in the financial year ending March 31, with underlying service revenue up 4% to US$2.2bn.

In El Salvador, O’Brien announced the expansion of the LTE 4.5 Advance plan. Since 2019, Digicel has invested US$400mn in fiber optics in the country, local press reported.

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