Digicel eyes up €82m buy

DIGICEL, the mobile phone company owned by Denis O'Brien, is eyeing up a $100 million (€82.32m) acquisition in Caribbean.

Mr O'Brien yesterday said Digicel was currently carrying out due diligence on a telecoms company in the region, though he declined to give its name. If the deal is completed, it would the third takeover by the Esat founder in the past year.

Digicel is also finalising the takeover of Bouygues Telecoms, which will give it access to three new Caribbean markets. Last year it bought the Caribbean and Bermuda assets of US phone giant Cingular and acquired Curaco Telecom.

Digicel say turnover rose to $600m (€494m) in the year to end March 2006, up from $478m (€393.5m). The company said its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation margin was 40%, indicating it made $240m (€198m) last year. Digicel has around 2m subscribers.

Mr O'Brien said turnover would hit $1 billion (€823m) by 2008 as Digicel enters new markets. It will launch mobile phone services in Haiti this month.

Since Mr O'Brien bought the company six years ago, it has invested $1bn in the Caribbean. It is looking to build or acquire mobile networks in the Bahamas, Honduras, Costa Rica, Surinam and Samoa. It will find out this week if it has won a licence to operate in Fiji.

Mr O'Brien has not ruled out floating the company.

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