Eircom Group’s advisers have approached some of Europe’s largest private-equity firms as Ireland’s former phone monopoly weighs a sale or a return to the stock market, said people with knowledge of the matter.
Apax Partners LLP, CVC Capital Partners Ltd. and KKR & Co. LP (KKR) are among buyout firms that have been approached to form a consortium for the Dublin-based firm, which changed ownership six times since 1999, said three people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Officials at Eircom, Apax and CVC declined to comment. KKR representatives didn’t immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment.
Eircom, which emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2012 after 1.8 billion euros ($2.5 billion), or 40 percent, of its debt was written off, hasn’t made any decision on its options, said two other people. A return to the stock market is seen helping cut the company’s 2.2 billion-euro net debt, they said.
Discussions with private-equity firms are at an early stage, said the people. An initial public offering would see Eircom target a main listing in Dublin, with a second quotation in London, the people said. The company is being advised by Rothschild, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Morgan Stanley. (MS)
The company has an estimated value of about 2.6 billion euros, according to David Holohan, head of research at Merrion Capital in Dublin. Eircom’s shares last traded in 2006.
Blackstone Group LP (BX), which owns a quarter of the firm through its debt arm GSO Capital Partners LP, was among firms approached and chose not to pursue a bid, another person said. The New York-based firm led a group of senior lenders seizing control of the company two years ago under a debt restructuring.
Eircom has been cutting jobs and upgrading its broadband network under a plan to revive revenues and earnings. The company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization for the nine months through March fell 1 percent to 352 million euros, according to latest available figures.
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