Sunday, February 4, 2018

Eir withdraws from Ireland's National Broadband Plan tender

Eir, the former incumbent telecoms operator in Ireland, has withdrawn its bid from Ireland's National Broadband Plan (NBP) tender process.

The company, which was shortlisted due to its extensive network infrastructure and business experience, cited significant commercial issues and complexity with the tender process. Eir concluded that the uncertainty on a range of regulatory and pricing issues presented too many risks to continue with a bid.

In a press release, Eir said it remains committed to supporting the NBP through commercial access to its network.

Eir also noted that it has invested €1.6bn to improve the telecommunications infrastructure in Ireland and that it now delivers high-speed broadband to 1.7 million premises across the country. Eir also remains fully committed to completing the rollout of high-speed broadband in rural Ireland through the commitment contract it signed with the Government in April 2017 to deliver speeds of up to 1,000Mb/s to 300,000 rural homes and businesses. Upon completion, 80% of premises in Ireland will have access to high-speed broadband.

France's Iliad to acquire Ireland's Eir for €3.5 billion

Iliad, the fully-integrated operator in France with nearly 20 million subscribers, has agreed to acquire eir, the Irish telecommunications and broadband carrier, for approximately €3.5 billion.

eir, which was formerly the state-owned telecom monopoly in Ireland until 1999 (Telecom Eireann), is currently owned by an investor group including Anchorage Capital Group, L.L.C, Davidson Kempner Capital Management LP, GIC, and management.

The offer from Iliad is backed by NJJ Group, the private investment firm of telecoms investor and operator Xavier Niel, who is a prominent French businessman.  Niel is the founder of and owns 52% of Iliad where he serves as Deputy Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer. Under the deal, NJJ will own 32.9% of eir. Iliad SA will own 31.6% of eir. Shareholders Anchorage Capital Group and Davidson Kempner will retain a combined 35.5% share in the company, respectively 26.6% and 8.9%.

eir had revenue of €1.3 billion and earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation of €520 million in the financial year to June 30, 2017. eir has about 32% share of the retail fixed broadband market in Ireland. Its share of the retail mobile market is about 18%.

Some additional notes about eir's operations in Ireland as of 30-September-2017:

  • 1,061,000 total mobile customers
  • 48.5% of customers are on postpay contracts
  • eir has approximately 96% LTE coverage
  • Strong momentum in FTTH connections - 12,000 connections, 72% of customers new to eir
  • 1,700,000 premises passed with fibre, including 80,000 of the 300,000 rural premises 
  • 551,000 fiber broadband connections, 61% of total broadband base
  • 896,000 total broadband connections, up 42,000 or 5% year on year 
  • 25% of customers now on triple or quad play bundles
  • eir Vision TV service has a customer base of 71,000 customers, up 17,000 year on year
Iliad, which operates under the "Free" brand, had nearly 13.4 million mobile and 6.5 million broadband subscribers as of 30-September-2017. Its market capitalisation is approximately €12 billion.

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