Ownership up in the Eir as unnamed investor eyes Irish venture

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

Eir's major shareholders have informed the Irish telco of an approach over a potential investment, with Iliad's Xavier Niel linked to a bid

A controlling stake in Ireland’s Eir is reportedly up for grabs, with major shareholders informing the company they have been approached by a “potential investor”.

The discussions between Eir’s main investors and an unnamed, foreign telecoms company could see the current shareholders retain significant holdings in the Irish incumbent, according to a report in the Irish Independent.

One name linked with a potential deal is French investor Xavier Niel, owner of French operator Iliad and Monaco Telecom, which he invested in through investment firm NJJ Captial. The Irish Times claims Niel will look to invest in Eir through the same vehicle.

Eir’s biggest shareholder is Anchorage Capital, which owns a 42% stake in the company, while Davidson Kempner Capital and Singapore’s GIC also have a holding. Anchorage increased its stake from 36.4% last year after buying part of York Capital’s stake in the firm.

The company was valued at €3.5 billion last year, having churned through a series of owners since it was first privatised almost two decades ago.

In a statement, Eir said: “The major shareholders of Eircom Holdings have informed the board of the issuer that they have been approached by a potential investor who may wish to make a significant investment in EHSA alongside them. 

“In so informing the Board, the major shareholders have affirmed their continuing commitment to their investment in EHSA for the foreseeable future. There can be no certainty that the discussions between the shareholders of EHSA and the potential investor will result in a transaction.”

This week the operator reported that annual revenues were up 1% to €1.32bn. Operating costs were down 5% while cashflow generation improved.

Commenting on the results, released earlier this week, Richard Moat, CEO Eir, said: “This has been another year of continued progress for eir with growth in underlying revenue of 1%, EBITDA growth of 4% and growth across a number of our key operational metrics.