Billionaire O’Brien May Draw Digicel Dividend in 2017; ‘No Rush’

Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien said he may draw a dividend from his Digicel Group Ltd. over the next two years, after halting payments for now.

O’Brien last year shelved a share sale, citing volatility in equity markets, and the Irish Times reported in April that he had waived $20 million of dividends in 2015.

“In the last 18 months, two years we’ve spent more than than $1 billion on capex,” O’Brien said in an interview with Bloomberg Television, due to air Tuesday. “It seems out of kilter to be paying a dividend to myself. We probably will in the next year, two years, but there’s no rush for that at all.”

O’Brien said Digicel remains “highly profitable” and plans to keep investing heavily, including through acquiring other businesses. O’Brien founded Digicel in 2001 and turned it into a mobile-phone empire spread from El Salvador to Vanuatu, partly on the back of high-risk, high-yield debt.

Corporate debt markets are still showing a “little bit of skittishness,” he said. ‘‘The market is getting a bit more solid, and looking at every credit for its own particular strengths. We have a great spread of assets.’’

The yield on Digicel’s April 2022 bond has dropped to 11.4 percent from 14.3 percent three months ago. Dubliner O’Brien is worth $3.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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