Investment fund sounds out ComReg over eircom break-up

13 Feb 2006

According to reports in UK newspaper The Sunday Times, the investment fund Babcock & Brown Capital, which is operated by the Australian group Babcock & Brown, has approached the telecoms regulator ComReg vis à vis its proposals to break up Irish telco eircom, ahead of a possible full-scale bid for the company. The Ozzie parent last week called upon shareholders to pay up the second instalment on each partly paid share, to increase the amount of cash it has raised on the market to AUD1 billion (USD738.2 million). Babcock & Brown Capital spent AUD350 million on building a 10.8% holding in eircom last year and its parent owns a further 1.7% stake. Babcock & Brown is also believed to be talking to banks about funding a bid, and may raise debt to make the investment. Sources close to Babcock & Brown say the investment firm met with eircom employee share ownership plan’s (Esop) advisers, ABN Amro Rothschild, before Christmas, and contact has been stepped up in recent weeks. Striking a deal with Esop, which holds 22% of eircom, is seen as key to any deal going through. However, a cash offer would trigger tax liabilities.

Ireland, eir