Thursday 22 August 2019

Eir says shareholders haven't left talks with investor

Xavier Niel, billionaire and vice chairman of Iliad SA
Xavier Niel, billionaire and vice chairman of Iliad SA
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Eir has insisted its shareholders are still in talks with a potential investor - believed to be French billionaire Xavier Niel - who is interested in buying a significant stake in the company.

The comments appear to contradict recent reports that talks between Mr Neil's NJJ Capital and Eir's main sharholders had fizzled out after news of the discussions emerged in September.

Speaking to the Irish Independent yesterday, Eir CEO Richard Moat said the company would have alerted the market if the discussions had ended. He said the company was obliged in September to announce that shareholders were taking to a potential investor, after the news emerged, and would equally have to say if talks were over.

"If discussions were terminated we would have had to have made another announcement and we haven't done so, so discussion are still ongoing," he said. He declined to say whether any further potential buyers had emerged since September.

"I can't comment on that," he said.

Eir's main shareholders are US investors Anchorage Capital and Davidson Kempner Capital along with GIC of Singapore.

Results for Eir's first financial quarter published yesterday show revenue down €7m or 2pc year-on-year to €322m in the three months to 30 September.

That was mainly due to an exit from low margin business to business lines, the company said. Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 2pc to €125m in the month period, as the company focused on simplification and overall cost efficiencies throughout the business.

Eir chief financial officer Huib Costermans said capital expenditure will remain elevated.

Eir is rolling out fibre broadband to 300,000 rural homes on a commercial basis, and is one of two remaining bidders alongside Enet for a State- subsidised rural broadband projected to pass 600,000 premises.

The take-up rate on rural homes passed under the current programme is 10pc in the first month, and rising, Richard Moat said. Eir said 26pc of customers now have triple or quad play bundles of services including fixed line, mobile, broadband and TV.

Irish Independent

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