Xavier Niel-led Consortium to Acquire Ireland’s eir

December 20, 2017

London – Paul Hastings LLP, a leading global law firm, announced today that it is advising a consortium led by NJJ Telecom Europe (“NJJ”) on the acquisition of a majority of eir, the Irish telecommunications and broadband business. eir had revenue of €1.32 billion, and earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization of €520 million, in the financial year to June 30, 2017. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018.

The acquiring consortium comprises:

  • NJJ which will own 32.9% and is the investment vehicle of Xavier Niel, one of France’s most prominent business leaders and an investor in telecommunications and technology ventures for 25 years;

  • Iliad SA, a French telecommunications company, listed on Euronext which will own 31.6%. Xavier Niel is the founder of and owns 52% of Iliad where he serves as Deputy Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer. Iliad is the parent of Free, which had nearly 20 million subscribers at September 30 2017 (13.4 million mobile and 6.5 million broadband). It had a market capitalization of nearly €12 billion in December 2017. Iliad has also been granted a call option by NJJ, exercisable in 2024 and enabling Iliad to acquire 80% of NJJ’s stake in eir (i.e. 26.3% of eir’s capital).

  • Anchorage Capital Group and Davidson Kempner who will have a stake share in the company of 26.6% and 8.9% respectively.

Please see the full company announcement here.

Paul Hastings has advised NJJ on a number of previous matters, including on the acquisition of a 55% stake in Monaco Telecom (see announcement here).

“This was a highly complex deal, and we worked closely with Lazard and NJJ to create a bespoke structure to enable NJJ to obtain control of eir alongside Anchorage Capital and Davidson Kempner,” said Garrett Hayes, who led the Paul Hastings team.

“We are very pleased to have helped NJJ on this deal which will see eir benefit from the support of a long-term investor in the telecoms sector who will bring its global know-how to eir.  It is a great way to end a successful 2017 for Paul Hastings in London, during which we advised on some of the most significant transactions of the year, including the complex restructuring of the Cooperative Bank, CVC Credit Partners’ $600 million risk retention capital raise, and ICG’s €5.2 billion debt fund.”

The Paul Hastings team in London was led by partner Garrett Hayes with associates David Prowse and Sam Waite, with partner Arun Birla and associates Hannah Gray on tax matters, partners Luke McDougall and Peter Schwartz on finance matters, and Paris partner Pierre Kirch on antitrust matters.

Lazard, led by Vincent Le Stradic, were financial advisor to NJJ;  A&L Goodbody, led by partner Charlie Carroll, were Irish counsel to NJJ; White & Case (Jarlath McGurran, Michael Mountain, Sanni Nissila) advised Anchorage. Arthur Cox advised eir; eir management were advised by RPC.

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