Eircom says IPO among its options to improve balance sheet as competition increases

Ireland-based operator Eircom is potentially seeking a stock market listing to improve its financial position in preparation for increasing competition on the Irish telecoms market, although the operator made it clear that this is one of a number of options under consideration.

Eircom confirmed to FierceWireless:Europe that an initial public offering (IPO) is one of the options being discussed by its board of directors in a review of the company's position. However, an Eircom spokesperson said "no decision has been made about an IPO," despite media reports to the contrary. Instead, the spokesperson said that "the board is embarked on a strategic review; there are various options being discussed, one of which is an IPO."

The operator is facing heightening pressures in the Irish market just two years after filing for Ireland's largest bankruptcy in corporate history. The company filed for protection from creditors to the tune of more than €3.75 billion ($5 billion) in debt, and was then placed under the control of more than 100 lenders, who created a new team to lead the business in the form of Herb Hribar, previously from Kabel Deutschland, and Richard Moat, formerly of EE.

As well as internal financial issues, Eircom's mobile brands eMobile and Meteor will soon be going head to head with Hutchison Whampoa's H3G unit. H3G has recently received European Commission (EC) permission for a €780 million ($1 billion) acquisition of Telefónica Ireland, merging O2 Ireland with 3 Ireland.

As part of the agreement from the EC to allow H3G to go ahead with the deal, it seems H3G will allow two mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) to buy up to 30 per cent of the merged company's network capacity. The deal would allow the two MVNOs to operate the spectrum for a 10-year period from January 1, 2016, with an option for one of them to become a full mobile network operator by acquiring spectrum at a later stage.

Carphone Warehouse and Liberty Global's UPC are both understood to have reached an agreement with H3G to become the two new Irish MVNOs.

For more:
-  see this Daily Telegraph article
- see this City AM article

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