Digicel in new deal to sell towers to PTI for $90m to cut debt

01 October 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Digicel has sold 451 of its towers in Jamaica to a US company for $90 million as its latest move to reduce its heavy debt.

The buyer is Phoenix Tower International (PTI), which has already bought 417 towers from Digicel in two separate deals in El Salvador and the French West Indies.

Digicel is also looking to sell 309 towers in the Pacific, according to reports from Dublin, where Digicel’s owner, Denis O’Brien, is based.

Digicel, which has no stock exchange quotation and is privately held by O’Brien, has not announced the sale, which was reported in the Irish Times, a rival to the Irish Independent newspaper, in which O’Brien is the biggest shareholder.

Private equity-backed PTI is a fast-growing tower company in Latin America and the Caribbean. In July 2018 it announced the purchase of 1,049 towers belonging to Altice in the Dominican Republic.

A few months ago PTI’s CEO, Dagan Kasavana, told Capacity’s sister company TowerXchange that the company “currently owns and/or manages a total of 4,633 tower assets across LatAm and the United States and we expect to end the year with over 6,000 sites in 12 countries across the Americas”.

He told TowerXchange: “I believe there are approximately 1,700 towers in Jamaica, approximately 3,000 in Dominican Republic, 1,700 in Haiti and approximately 1,100 towers in total in the three markets we do business in in the French Antilles (Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guyana).”

That means PTI has acquired about 26% of the towers in Jamaica with its Digicel deal.

According to the Irish Times, Digicel is trying to replace $3 billion of debt due on 19 October with new debt that will mature later.

In 2015 O’Brien was trying to raise $10 billion by floating shares in Digicel, but he cancelled to offer at the last minute because of uncertainty in the market.

O’Brien is also the businessman behind Deep Blue Cable, a plan to build a subsea cable network around the Caribbean and Latin America.