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Xavier Niel ‘close’ to taking majority control of Eir

EirXavier Niel, the French telecom entrepreneur and owner of multi-play service provider Iliad Telecom/Free, is close to finalizing a deal to buy a majority stake in Irish telco Eir, according to press reports.

According to The Times, a deal could be signed by the end of the year, expected to value the telco at around €1.5 billion excluding debt.

Niel’s NJJ Capital will take a majority stake by acquiring shares held by investment outfits Anchorage Capital, Davidson Kempner and GIC, Eir’s three biggest shareholders, according to The Times. The three between them currently hold over 90% of the Irish telco’s shares.

A deal would mark Eir’s sixth change of ownership since 1999.

NJJ Capital already holds a majority stake in Monaco Telecom.

Eir, which posted revenues of €1.32 billion and EBITDA of €520 million in the year to June, serves 551,000 broadband customers and owns EirSport, a sports TV channel.

The operator is also involved in the tender for the Irish national broadband plan, which aims to connect over half a million additional homes to fibre broadband.