Smart raises 3G funds

22 Dec 2005

Ireland’s Smart Telecom has completed a EUR56.7 million refinancing package to raise funds for the purchase of its 3G licence and operating spectrum. The funding consists of a EUR28.35 million convertible loan advance from Quinn Funding and a bank borrowing facility for the same amount, guaranteed by Smart’s majority shareholder Brendan Murtagh. Last month telecoms watchdog ComReg offered Smart the country’s fourth 3G licence. Smart beat applications from eircom and Meteor Mobile, judged on a number of criteria including speed of network rollout and coverage plans. The ‘class B’ licence requires Smart to launch services by 30 April 2007, with 33% population coverage by end-October 2009, rising to 53% by 2011. The 3G spectrum access fee is EUR114.3 million, with annual spectrum and admin charges of up to EUR2.5 million. Hutchison Whampoa, Vodafone and O2 hold Ireland’s other 3G licences.