Xavier Niel announces €10bn bid to take Iliad private
French businessman Xavier Niel has launched a surprise bid to take Iliad, the telco of which he controls 71%, completely private.
He is offering €182 a share, which is 61% more than last night’s closing price. The share price immediately rose from Thursday’s close of €113.15 up to €182.10 this morning, and then settled back to €182, valuing the company at a market cap of €10.85 billion.
Iliad, which operates in France under the Free brand, last year bought Polish telco Play, and also owns Irish incumbent Eir and Iliad Italia.
This morning the company said a privatisation would lead to a “reinforced commitment of Xavier Niel for the benefit of the group he created and affirmation of an ambitious long-term strategy for Iliad”.
Iliad’s board of directors “unanimously welcomed the proposed simplified public offering”, said the company this morning.
Iliad noted that Niel (pictured) “and the historic managers and shareholders of Iliad who have committed to tender their shares to the offer … directly and indirectly hold 74.9% 1 of the capital and 83.6% of the group’s voting rights”.
Niel said that privatisation of Iliad, which he founded in 1995 as the first ISP in France, will enable “rapid transformations and significant investments … more easily completed as an unlisted company”.
He said: “Our ambition for Iliad prompts us to accelerate its development to make it a telecommunications leader in Europe.”
Iliad CEO Thomas Reynaud said Iliad management “very much welcome this new sign of Xavier Niel’s commitment”. He added: “This operation secures the strategic independence of Iliad and the calm pursuit of our development plan based on significant investments in 5G and fibre.”