Discussions over ownership still ‘ongoing’, says Eir

Eir chief executive, Richard Moat, has said that discussions over the future ownership of the communications company are “ongoing”.

In September, Eir — currently 42% owned by US hedge fund, Anchorage Capital — announced it had received an approach from an unnamed potential investor, regarding a possible “significant investment”. It added that existing shareholders remained committed to their investment “for the foreseeable future”.

That statement followed reports suggesting Anchorage was considering a trade sale of the group, rather than an IPO, which had been seen as a likely option.

It was later reported that Xavier Niel — the majority owner of French telecoms company, Iliad, controlling stakeholder in Monaco Telecom and a co-owner of French newspaper, Le Monde — was the interested party, but Eir’s management declined to expand upon its September announcement, yesterday.

However, Mr Moat said Eir remains “well on course” to achieve its stated target of low, single-digit percentage growth in earnings, in its current financial year, after posting its tenth consecutive quarter of earnings growth.

First quarter earnings — on an EBITDA basis — grew by 2%, year-on-year, in the three months to the end of September. However, underlying revenue was down 2%, to €322m. On a reported basis, revenues for the quarter dropped 3.5%, year-on-year, to €316m. The drop in revenue was down to the strategic decision to exit certain low-margin business lines and mobile termination rate reductions implemented in September of last year, which had a €4m year-on-year impact on Eir.

Mr Moat also disagreed with suggestions that the National Broadband Plan — for which final submissions are due to be made to government early next year — could take longer than planned to execute.

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