Xavier Niel advances move to take Iliad Telecom/Free private

French service provider Iliad Telecom/Free has submitted documentation regarding its planned public offering to acquire its shares and founder and principal shareholder Xavier Niel moves to take the company private to markets regulator the AMF.

Iliad is offering €182 per share to acquire shares during a 12-day window, beginning September 9. A previous offer last year that saw the buyback of around 20% of shares was priced at €120.

Niel wants to take Iliad private in order to focus on his strategy of creating a pan-European telecom group following initiative to expand internationally outside France, most recently in Poland, with a proposition that combines 5G mobile telephony with fibre-based broadband internet. The company has previously been successful in disrupting the Italian market with its mobile offering and is also a player in Ireland.

“This strategy of investments and international expansion has accelerated in the last 12 months, bringing about significant volatility in the share price by reason of an important disconnect between the short-term priorities of the market and the needs of the group to implement its medium and long-term strategic objectives,” the company said in its offering document.

“The offer is founded on the shared desire of the founder and the company to enable the Iliad Group, its leaders and teams, to focus serenely on its ambitions for development in Europe and the improvement of the quality of its services.”

Niel intends to initiate a squeeze out of remaining minority investors inf the latter represent less than 10% of the share capital of the group after the current offer closes.

Niel’s move to take the company private follows that of fellow telecoms tycoon Patrick Drahi, founder of Altice Group, who took the owner of SFR and BFMTV private at the start of the year.


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