Wednesday, December 20, 2017

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.

Xavier Niel, Iliad and NJJ Telecom Europe, said: "eir is an essential part of the Irish economy and we have closely followed its transformation over the last five years through the excellent work of its team. We are a long-term investor in the telecoms sector and bring global knowhow to eir. In our businesses in France, Monaco and Switzerland we have consistently delivered investment in infrastructure, while driving down prices for consumers.

Carl Leaver, Chairman of Eircom Holdings (Ireland) Limited, said: “Today marks an important milestone for eir, our customers and indeed for Ireland itself. Iliad and NJJ Telecom Europe bring a wealth of global telecommunications experience which will be of huge benefit to eir and its customers. Coupled with the continued involvement of our existing shareholders, Anchorage Capital and Davidson Kempner, the company is well positioned to continue its operational transformation, underpinned by sustained investment, innovative products and services and improved financial performance”.

The acquisition requires regulatory consent from the government of Ireland and the EU.

See also