Digicel Group plans to complete the sale and leaseback of 450 cell towers across the Caribbean by the end of September, the Irish Times reports, as part of a wider plan to cut debt. Citing a statement made to debt analysts and bond investors this week, the newspaper claims that the Irish-owned group plans to generate as much as USD500 million from asset sales over the next nine months in order to lower its debt burden. The development follows the sale of 215 cell towers in the French West Indies to Florida-based Phoenix Tower International, in February this year.
The report also notes that there is ‘mounting speculation’ that the group could offload its Digicel Panama unit. In May this year the Panamanian government approved the previously proposed Law No. 479, which includes a clause to reduce the number of active mobile players from four to three, as it seeks to make better use of the country’s spectrum resources. Digicel – which is understood to be the market’s smallest operator in terms of subscribers – has been identified as the player most likely to be squeezed out of the market.
Earlier this week Bloomberg reported that Digicel’s EBITDA for the quarter ending 31 March dropped 10% to USD253 million, while its full year earnings dropped 2% to just over USD1 billion.