Bloomberg News

Eircom Said to Set Nov. 18 Deadline for Investment Proposals

November 07, 2011

Nov. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Eircom Group Ltd.’s independent directors set a Nov. 18 deadline for investment proposals as Ireland’s biggest phone company seeks to restructure its debt, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Eircom, based in Dublin, said last month it had received proposals from its owners, Singapore Technologies Telemedia Pte. and an employee trust, and some second-lien lenders, as well “an approach from a third party.” Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien’s mobile phone company Digicel Group Ltd. is behind the approach, according to three other people with knowledge of the matter. The people declined to be identified as the matter is private.

Eircom, saddled with 3.75 billion euros ($5.2 billion) of debt following five ownership changes in the last 12 years, said Sept. 15 its senior lenders agreed to waive debt terms for three months. The company is pursuing in excess of 1.3 billion euros of debt writedowns across its lenders, people familiar with the situation said Sept. 30.

A proposal by the current owners would see first-lien lenders write off some of their 2.36 billion euros of holdings and swap some of their debt for a 15 to 25 percent stake in Eircom, three people familiar with the talks said Sept. 30.

The Sunday Times first reported Oct. 30 that Digicel had made an approach about a possible takeover of the company. O’Brien is Ireland’s richest man, with a net worth of 2.52 billion pounds ($3.78), according to the 2011 Sunday Times Rich List.

Digicel spokesman James Dunny declined to comment on any interest by Digicel in Eircom.

Eircom Spokeswoman Dearbhaill Rossiter declined to comment on the investment proposals deadline.

--Editors: Dara Doyle, Cecile Gutscher

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Brennan in Dublin at jbrennan29@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net


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