O’Brien raises US$300m to fund Caribbean expansion

22 Jul 2005

Denis O’Brien’s Digicel Group, the fastest-growing wireless telecommunications company in the Caribbean, has raised US$300m through a corporate bond offering as part of its continued growth strategy.

The financing was raised through investment banks Citigroup and JP Morgan and was oversubscribed more than 10 times. In the past fortnight, O’Brien, as group chairman, and group CEO Colm Delves presented to institutional investors in major international financial markets.

The funding will be used to expand services in Trinidad and Tobago, to repay mezzanine and shareholder loans and to fund the recently acquired Cingular Wireless assets in the Caribbean and Bermuda, pending regulatory approval.

O’Brien’s vision is to create a seamless pan-Caribbean cellular network. In 2005 so far, Digicel has extended its regional reach to 15 countries with the acquisition of Curaçao Telecom, the awarding of GSM licences in Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti, and most recently its agreement to acquire Cingular Wireless’ Caribbean and Bermuda network of operations.

“We are greatly encouraged by the response we have seen from this funding initiative,” commented O’Brien. “We are now in an even more strategic position to move into our next expansion phase.”

James Seagrave, JP Morgan managing director, added: “The sheer size and quality of the order book for this issue was truly impressive and underscores the strength and attraction of the Digicel investment story, as well as the stellar track record of Denis O’Brien in the public capital markets.”

Digicel was also advised on the transaction by Dublin-based Connolly Corporate Finance.

By Brian Skelly