Sunday 24 September 2017

Four major bidders vie for stake in Enet

Irish-American businessman David McCourt, whose Granahan McCourt Capital owns 53pc of Enet, remains committed as a long-term investor in the company and will not sell any of his stake as part of the deal, it is understood. Photo: Getty
Irish-American businessman David McCourt, whose Granahan McCourt Capital owns 53pc of Enet, remains committed as a long-term investor in the company and will not sell any of his stake as part of the deal, it is understood. Photo: Getty

Fearghal O'Connor

Four major international bidders are competing to buy close to half of the broadband company Enet. US private equity firm Oak Hill is selling its 47pc share of the broadband business. Energy giant SSE, French broadband provider Cube, Australian bank AMP and London investment manager Mayfair Capital are shortlisted as buyers of the stake.

Enet is a contender for the National Broadband Plan.

Irish-American businessman David McCourt, whose Granahan McCourt Capital owns 53pc of Enet, remains committed as a long-term investor in the company and will not sell any of his stake as part of the deal, it is understood.

More than €110m has been invested in Enet since McCourt bought it in 2013. The final price for Oak Hill's stake will value Enet well in excess of that investment, according to industry sources.

Enet declined to comment when contacted but it is understood that finalisation of the deal, details of which emerged this weekend, could happen within a matter of weeks. Oak Hill was originally brought in as an equity partner by McCourt at a time when investment in Ireland was viewed as risky.

The deal will allow McCourt to find a new long-term partner for Enet with either telecoms or large infrastructural provision, boosting Enet's chances of winning a portion of the state contract.

McCourt has previously expressed a desire to expand his business into Europe from his Dublin base and this deal may form part of that overall strategy, sources said.

Energy giant SSE - already a major energy operator in Ireland - is understood to be sizing up the stake as part of its expansion beyond the power sector. A second bidder, French-based Cube, is building and operating key elements of France's broadband plan.

Australian bank AMP is one of the biggest and longest-established infrastructure funds in the world and recently invested in Irish primary healthcare centres.

The fourth bidder, London-based investment manager Mayfair Capital, is viewed as least likely to buy into Enet but is understood to be seeking Irish investments.

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