Irish Fund Said Poised to Buy Phone Masts for $160 Million

A fund backed by Ireland’s sovereign wealth fund is poised to buy about 400 mobile phone masts for 120 million euros ($160 million) from an investor group led by Goodbody Stockbrokers clients, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

Irish Infrastructure Fund, a 1 billion-euro fund created by Irish Life Investment Managers and run by Sydney-based AMP Capital Investors Ltd., entered exclusive talks last month to buy TowerCom Holdings Ltd., which owns the masts, said the people, who asked not to be identified, as the matter is private. An accord may be announced within weeks, they said.

TowerCom bought the mast business of Ireland’s former phone monopoly Eircom Group in 2007 for 155 million euros. The company earns fees from providing radio antenna facilities for wireless phone companies. Eircom and Vodafone Group Plc are its biggest customers, according to TowerCom filings.

Irish Infrastructure Fund, established in 2011, made its first investment a year ago by buying a majority stake in 104 megawatts of wind arm projects from Viridian Group Ltd., the Belfast-based power company. Ireland’s National Pensions Reserve Fund is the fund’s biggest investor, having committed 250 million euros.

Time Up

TowerCom’s banks, led by Allied Irish Banks Plc, weren’t prepared to allow more time for its loans to be repaid, having extended a five-year facility for 12 months in September, the company said in a letter to investors last month, according to the people.

The investors stand to recover about 45 percent of their 45 million-euro equity outlay, they said. Dublin-based telecoms services provider Threefold Project Management Ltd. are among the company’s other shareholders, according to filings.

Spokesmen for the NPRF, Irish Life, Goodbody Stockbrokers and Allied Irish declined to comment on the transaction. Officials from TowerCom and AMP Capital weren’t immediately available for comment.

TowerCom’s operating profit rose to 11.1 million euros in 2011 from 10.5 million euros a year earlier, according to its most recent set of filed accounts.

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