US hedge fund set to take control of Ireland’s Eir
28 October 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray
Irish operator Eir – formerly Eircom – is set to fall under the majority control of New York based hedge fund Anchorage Capital Group, already the company’s largest shareholder.
Reports from Dublin say that York Capital, also a New York hedge fund, is set to sell its 10% holding in Eir to other shareholders, including Anchorage, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC and a third New York investment fund, Davidson Kempner.
Each will buy part of the York Capital holding, an unnamed source has told the Irish Times.
Anchorage already has a 45-49% voting share in Eir, though it owns just 36.4% of the equity. By buying part of York Capital’s holding Anchorage will effectively take control. Eir said that this was “a positive endorsement of the group and its strategy”
Anchorage Capital Group says on its one-page website that it “is a New York-based registered investment adviser founded in 2003. The firm manages private investment funds across the credit, special situations and illiquid investment markets of North America and Europe using an active long and short basis, with particular focus on defaulted and leveraged issuers.”
The investor acquired its stake in Eir for an unknown price in 2015 when Blackstone sold most of its interest. Blackstone had been a lender to what was then Eircom in 2012 when the operator went into creditor protection. The debt was converted to equity as lenders took control.
Eir’s shareholders rejected a €3.3 billion bid for the company in May 2015, saying the unnamed bidders undervalued it. Blackstone’s sale took place the following day.
Formerly state-owned Eir is the largest operator in Ireland, and its Open Eir division is the largest wholesale operator in the country, with more than 40 wholesale customers and 400,000 end users.