Tags: hutchison whampoa | eircom | phone

Hutchison Whampoa Said to Bid for Ireland’s Eircom

Thursday, 03 May 2012 07:57 PM

Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. made a bid of about 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion) for Eircom Group, the Irish phone company in supervised credit protection to restructure its debt, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The cash offer made by Hutchison’s Three Ireland unit was rejected by Ireland’s court-appointed examiner overseeing the reorganization because there were too many conditions attached, said two of the people, who declined to be identified because the discussions are private. Three Ireland will probably make another bid, they said.

Dublin-based Eircom said April 30 the examiner, Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton, rejected a conditional non-binding offer for the company. It didn’t name the bidder. McAteer said by phone yesterday that he hasn’t received another offer.

Officials for Eircom and Three Ireland declined to comment late yesterday, as did a spokesman for Eircom’s senior lenders. Eircom’s examiner last month set an April 23 deadline for indicative investment proposals, with a May 7 deadline for final proposals.

Eircom on March 30 went into examinership, an Irish variant of U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, in the biggest corporate insolvency in Irish history, with about 3.8 billion euros of net debt. Customers have cut spending or ditched their contracts as unemployment tripled with the economic collapse that led Ireland to seek a bailout in 2010.

European Assets

Hutchison, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, has said it’s looking to expand its wireless business in Europe. There are opportunities for consolidation in the phone industry in the region, Hutchison Managing Director Canning Fok told reporters in Hong Kong on March 29.

“We will be the consolidator; we won’t be consolidated,” he said.

In February, Hutchison agreed to buy Orange Austria in a deal valued at 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion) to expand its operations in the European country.

Hutchison’s 3 Group, which owns phone businesses in Italy, the U.K., Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Australia and Ireland, has made cumulative investments of HK$240 billion ($31 billion), according to an estimate by Morgan Stanley in 2010.

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Thursday, 03 May 2012 07:57 PM
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