Business Irish

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Piercy's Viatel tipped to be Ireland's next 
billion-euro business

Much of €125m war chest to be spent at home

Colm Piercy: Viatel boss
Colm Piercy: Viatel boss
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

Colm Piercy's Viatel will reach a valuation of around €1bn by the end of 2016 if it meets revenue targets, insiders say.

The company is currently worth around €500m, sources said, based on its pan-European fibre network and annualised 2014 revenues of €100m.

In the wake of a massive fundraising drive by the broadband business, Viatel is targeting revenues of €250m by 2016 - which should up its value to around €1bn.

University of Limerick alumnus Mr Piercy stands to benefit the most. The former academic has managed to retain a majority stake in the business he founded as Digiweb 13 years ago, estimated at between 60 and 70pc. Just a few others own shares, including Morgan Stanley and the company's management.

There are no plans to change this. An IPO is not on the cards, Mr Piercy said.

Viatel has only one major debt commitment - a €125m finance agreement just signed with Swedish investor Proventus. This took the form of a flexible loan rather than equity agreement.

Until recently, it was largely self-funded, complementing this with small bank loans for working capital needs.

While reluctant to put a valuation on the business, Mr Piercy confirmed Viatel was worth "multiples" of hundreds of millions.

Its pan-European network would cost €2bn to build from scratch, he added.

Its new cash pile of €125m will be used to fund acquisitions, which will drive most of its revenue growth. Mr Piercy, intends to spend this quickly, with most purchases signed off by the end of next year.

This speedy spending plan is partly motivated by growing appetite among competitors for broadband acquisitions. "Competition is heating up. More and more investors are looking for telecoms assets," Mr Piercy said.

He is looking for companies worth between €10m and €60m.

A large portion of the cash will be spent in Ireland. Viatel, which operates and connects data centres as well as providing companies with broadband, does a lot of business in this country because the flood of foreign technology giants to Ireland is pushing up demand for connectivity. It connects 22 of Ireland's 24 data centres and 150 across Europe, as well as organisations like atomic research institute CERN and the London Stock Exchange.

Its €125m war chest will also be used to expand into new markets, including the US, Middle East and Canada.

Sunday Indo Business

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