Total group revenues at Digicel, the mobile phone company owned by businessman Denis O’Brien, fell by US$7 million to US$691 million in the three months to the end of September, according to financial statements sent to the company’s bondholders.
Despite underlying growth of 2 per cent, the company blamed a fall against the dollar in the currencies of Haiti, Papua New Guinea and Jamaica for the dip in sales.
Its performance dipped sharply in Haiti, the impoverished country that is one of Digicel’s main markets. Its subscriber numbers there fell by six per cent, while sales fell by 11 per cent to US$126 million, with a nine per cent reduction when the effects of currency are stripped out.
It blamed “weaker economic conditions” in Haiti and new price plans, which it said were designed to “grow our market share”. Digicel already has a 75 per cent market share in Haiti, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2010.
In Jamaica, another of its main markets, revenues fell by 9 per cent to US$107 million. Digicel said its underlying revenues had grown by one per cent. The Jamaican dollar had fallen by 12 per cent.
Its operations in El Salvador were also hit by a weak economy, with revenues there falling by US$3 million to US$28 million, although subscriber numbers increased by 7 per cent. Digicel said it plans to launch 4G services in El Salvador in the current quarter.
Its revenues in Papua New Guinea, another of its major markets, were flat at US$116 million, while sales in Trinidad & Tobago grew by 13 per cent to $64 million. Sales in “other markets”, including British Virgin Islands, Guyana and Suriname, increased by between four per cent to US$170 million.
While overall revenues fell slightly, it was an improved performance on the previous three months to the end of June, when Digicel made a net loss of about $11 million.
The company paid interest charges of US$104 million on loan notes and project finance debts of US$5.675 billion, according to the accounts.
The company also gave an update on its operation in Myanmar, formerly Burma, where it lost out on a mobile licence earlier this year. It said it had “capitalised” costs of US$25 million in relation to a network of mobile masts it had assembled during the bidding.
“We continue to explore ancillary opportunities in Myanmar and are evaluating these on an ongoing basis,” it said. (theirishtimes)
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