Business Irish

Saturday 16 December 2017

Storm devastation lands Eir with €5m phone bill

Flooding in Athlone, one of the areas badly hit in the winter storms. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Flooding in Athlone, one of the areas badly hit in the winter storms. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

This winter's storms will cost telecom provider Eir around €5m, the company estimates, assuming the weather situation does not deteriorate further.

The company is still dealing with the aftermath of the storms that adversely affected as many as 10,000 phone connections and flooded equipment, management said yesterday.

About 4,000 customers are still affected and costs of €500,000 incurred between October and December are set to rise substantially, to as much as €5m, Eir's chief finance officer, Huib Costermans, said yesterday.

Eir, the former Eircom, yesterday reported revenue growth of 4pc in the first half of the year - to €653m for the six months, while earnings also grew, up 5pc to €237m.

Eir chief executive Richard Moat said the business trends are positive, with three back-to-back quarters of earnings growth and three of revenue growth.

Richard Moat took over as CEO following the 2014 departure of Herb Hribar, who left after the business ditched a planned stock market flotation.

Asked yesterday whether a sale or stock listing is currently on the cards, Mr Moat said there is potential for either, but "no work in that direction" is currently being done.

After buying Setanta Sports during the third quarter, Richard Moat confirmed yesterday that further television acquisitions are on the cards.

The Setanta Sports package includes broadcasting rights for BT Sports in Ireland, including the English Premiership, until 2019, Huib Costermans said.

A decision on whether Setanta will be offered exclusively to Eir customer has not yet been made, Mr Moat said.

Eir expects to formally take control of Setanta Sports in the second quarter of this year.

At the end of the year the company's consumer base stood at 817,000, up 35,000 from a year earlier. Eir's broadband user base by 19,000 in the final quarter of the year while customers of its TV offering, Eir Vision, stood at 45,000.

The firm's mobile customer base is now over one million and it reported for the first time ever that the average monthly data use among its customers exceeded 1GB. The average Eir customer now uses two paid services from the company, which it sees vital to driving revenues and customer retention.

Richard Moat dismisses claims that the business disadvantages its wholesale customers relative to its own retail arm, saying it is in Eir's interests to provide the best possible service to clients.

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