Digicel sees 98% final take-up of $3bn ‘distressed’ bond-swap offer

Telecoms group owned by Denis O’Brien is saddled with about $6.7bn of debt

Digicel has said that almost 98 per cent of creditors holding $3 billion (€2.6 billion) of bonds in businessman Denis O'Brien's highly-indebted telecoms group have taken up an offer to postpone getting their money back.

Following four months of negotiations with bondholders on what credit ratings agency Moody’s described as a “distressed exchange offer”, Digicel said on December 19th that 96.6 per cent of holders of $2 billion of bonds due in October 2022 elected to swap their notes for securities that will mature in 2022.

Three days later, the company revealed that 95.4 per cent of the owners of $1 billion of Digicel bonds due in 2022 had been persuaded to exchange their holdings for new 2024 bonds.

In an update statement issued on Thursday, Digicel said that final take-up across both offers had risen to 97.9 per cent by the time the offer expired on January 9th.

Sudden death

Mr O'Brien, who founded the emerging markets-focused telecoms group in 2001 and remains its chairman, stepped in as interim chief executive last month after the sudden death over of Alex Matuschka von Greiffenclau (47), who had joined Digicel as CEO last February. Mr von Greiffenclau, who had led negotiations with the bondholders, died while holidaying with his family in his native Germany on December 27th.

Digicel, which operates in 31 markets across the Caribbean and South Pacific regions, is saddled with about $6.7 billion of debt.

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