10 April 2018
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
Xavier Niel’s personal investment company has officially taken control of Ireland’s incumbent operator Eir.
Niel controls France’s Iliad group, which owns
the Free fixed and mobile operator, but the deal has been
completed via NJJ, his private investment firm, whose
investments include Monaco Telecom and
Switzerland’s Salt Telecom.
At the same time Carolan Lennon, former head of
Eir’s wholesale operation, has taken over as
group CEO, and Niel’s group has installed a new
board of directors.
David McRedmond, non-executive chairman, said: "The company
will benefit greatly from having such a high calibre board of
directors with strong Irish roots, a deep understanding of the
Irish rural and urban landscape, specific knowledge of the
company and extensive telecommunications expertise. The board
will work closely with the management team to ensure the future
success of the company."
The new board includes Niel as well as previous CEO Richard
Moat, but excludes Lennon and the new CFO, Stephen Tighe, who
was finance director of Eir’s consumer
Former Vodafone executive Lennon said: "I will work with a new
senior management team, all of whom have been appointed from
within Eir and who have substantial industry knowledge and
market experience. The new management team reflects the
importance of talent development and embraces gender diversity,
themes that are extremely important to me."
This is just the latest of several changes of ownership for
Eir, which was privatised – as Eircom – at
the height of the dotcom bubble in 1999, and then acquired and
delisted only two years later.
Its shares were floated again in 2004, but in 2006 Australian
investment group Babcock and Brown bought it for €2.4
billion and its shares were delisted again. Babcock and Brown
then collapsed and Singapore’s ST Telemedia bought
But the company went into the Irish equivalent of bankruptcy
reconstruction in 2012, with ST Telemedia losing its
investment. The company was restructured later in the year,
though a later move to list its shares failed to find
Lennon said: "I am confident that we can, together with the
board, build the best fixed and mobile network in Ireland,
offer the highest quality products and deliver a first-rate
customer care service for the Irish people."