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Borrower view: Lawrence Hickey – Digicel punches above its rating

Caribbean wireless operator Digicel is proving to be one of the most sought-after borrowers in the emerging markets. Sudip Roy speaks to CFO Lawrence Hickey about what makes the company such a popular credit.

Digicel factbox

Chief executive: Colm Delves
Chief financial officer: Lawrence Hickey
Business Caribbean wireless operator
Launched: April 2001
Debt strategy in a nutshell: Issued a $300 million seven non-call four-year bond in July 2005. Generated $3 billion in orders. Re-opened bond for a further $150 million in July 2006.
Credit ratings: B (Fitch); B3 (Moody’s)
Lead managers: Citigroup and JPMorgan for both deals

You are a single-B rated company based in Jamaica. Your business is mobile telephony, an industry more vulnerable to swings in investor sentiment than most. The capital markets have been effectively shut for well over a month and are only just showing signs of life. You’re the chief financial officer and you need to raise money to fund your aggressive regional expansion. But do you take the risk and issue at a time when it seems that only the blue-chip names can borrow? Or do you sit on the sidelines and wait?

For Lawrence Hickey, the CFO at Digicel, the decision was straightforward. In July, the company reopened its 2012 bond for $150 million and in the process became the first true high-yield corporate in the Latin America and Caribbean region to issue since the big market wobble began in May.

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