Murtagh’s BidCo takes over Smart for one euro, Vodafone Ireland expresses interest

9 Oct 2006

Troubled Irish operator Smart Telecom agreed late last Friday to offload all of its business assets and liabilities to BidCo, a private company controlled by its major shareholder Brendan Murtagh, for one euro together with shares representing 10% of BidCo. The Murtagh-backed company will assume Smart Telecom’s estimated liabilities of nearly EUR40 million and provide extra working capital, Smart said, subject to the move receiving shareholder approval at an EGM. Smart, which is 19.99% owned by Murtagh, says the move will enable it to resume the provision of services to its corporate and residential broadband customers with immediate effect. According to Smart, BidCo has received irrevocables and undertakings in favour of the move totalling 42.1% of shareholders. Ciaran Casey, Smart Telecom’s chief executive, acknowledged that the intervention of BidCo would disappoint shareholders but insisted the alternative would have been examinership or liquidation. He went on to say that the future sale of the business had not been ruled out, but the immediate priority was to stabilise the company.

Vodafone Ireland is one of a number of companies which are understood to be interested in acquiring Smart Telecom’s assets, including its broadband business, says The Sunday Times newspaper, citing sources close to the troubled operator. A spokesperson for Vodafone Ireland declined to comment.