Business Irish

Monday 24 June 2019

Hutch dials up on a revised €2bn Eircom offer

Nick Webb

Hutchison Whampoa, which is owned by Asia's richest man, Li Ka Shing, is set to submit a revised offer for Eircom after a €2bn approach was rejected last week.

It is understood that Hutchison Whampoa, which owns the 3 Ireland mobile operator, submitted an all-cash offer for the debt-laden telecoms firm, chaired by Ned Sullivan, last weekend. The offer was highly conditional and the €2bn bid was rejected by the Eircom examiner, Michael McAteer, and senior lenders over certain conditions.

The Sunday Independent has learned that Hutchison Whampoa wrote to the examiner last week slamming the sales process and reaffirming that it wished to make a €2bn cash offer for Eircom. Hutchison is believed to have asked for assurances that its bid would be taken seriously. The firm declined to comment.

Sources have indicated that Hutchison Whampoa is prepared to invest up to €1.3bn into ramping up Eircom services and adding some vavavoom to its fibre network. This would be a major boost to the company which has suffered from chronic underinvestment for the last decade.

The carrot of a billion euro-plus investment would clearly be a better result for the State as the alternative is to sell the company to its bondholders who may just flip the debt-laden outfit again whenever markets improve.

Advisers to Hutchinson Whampoa are understood to have expressed concern that complications in the sales process could damage Ireland's reputation as a suitable place for investment

Hutchison Whampoa has already indicated that it is eager to invest in Irish infrastructure assets. Senior executives from the company met with the Department of Finance last year. Recently it emerged that the Asian conglomerate had also made an approach to buy O2's Irish operations from Telefonica.

Sunday Indo Business

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