Four companies have submitted bids to buy Irish wireless internet access provider Irish Broadband from local infrastructure group National Toll Roads (NTR), writes The Sunday Times. Bidders are understood to include US-based Clearwire, which already provides broadband services in the Republic. The names of the other bidders are not known, although BT Ireland, UPC Ireland and Sky Ireland are all believed to have studied the business before deciding not to invest. NTR is trying to raise between EUR20 million and EUR25 million (USD25.7 million-USD32.1 million) in funding for the business, which is being handled by Goodbody Corporate Finance. NTR’s broadband unit has around 30,000 high speed internet access subscribers and targets the residential and corporate markets. It holds 27 separate licences in the 3.5GHz band and reported revenues of EUR8.2 million in the 15 months to March 2006.
Irish Broadband is a 63% owned subsidiary of Irish private sector developer, financier and operator of public infrastructure, NTR. In September 2006 the operator’s majority shareholder confirmed it was looking to sell the company and said it had approached several firm in an effort to secure a deal. The decision comes as no surprise following its announcement earlier in the year that the unit was no longer considered a core part of its business. NTR has valued the broadband provider at around EUR60 million (USD77.2 million), but some suggest the hefty price tag could deter suitors while there are concerns that others would be put off by the unit’s technology platform which may not be compatible with their own systems.