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Paul Hastings advises as Xavier Niel-led consortium acquires Ireland’s eir

Law firm Paul Hastings is advising a consortium led by NJJ Telecom Europe (NJJ) on the acquisition of a majority of eir, the Irish telecommunications and broadband business. eir had revenue of EUR1.32 billion, and earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation of EUR520 million, in the financial year to June 30, 2017.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018.
 
NJJ which will own 32.9 per cent and is the investment vehicle of Xavier Niel, one of France’s most prominent business leaders and an investor in telecommunications and technology ventures for 25 years.
 
Iliad SA, a French telecommunications company, listed on Euronext which will own 31.6 per cent. Xavier Niel is the founder of and owns 52 per cent of Iliad where he serves as Deputy Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer. Iliad is the parent of Free, which had nearly 20 million subscribers at September 30 2017 (13.4 million mobile and 6.5 million broadband). It had a market capitalization of nearly EUR12 billion in December 2017. Iliad has also been granted a call option by NJJ, exercisable in 2024 and enabling Iliad to acquire 80 per cent of NJJ’s stake in eir (i.e. 26.3 per cent of eir’s capital).
 
Anchorage Capital Group and Davidson Kempner will have a stake share in the company of 26.6 per cent and 8.9 per cent respectively.
 
Paul Hastings has advised NJJ on a number of previous matters, including on the acquisition of a 55 per cent stake in Monaco Telecom.
 
“This was a highly complex deal, and we worked closely with Lazard and NJJ to create a bespoke structure to enable NJJ to obtain control of eir alongside Anchorage Capital and Davidson Kempner,” says Garrett Hayes, who led the Paul Hastings team. “We are very pleased to have helped NJJ on this deal which will see eir benefit from the support of a long-term investor in the telecoms sector who will bring its global know-how to eir.  It is a great way to end a successful 2017 for Paul Hastings in London, during which we advised on some of the most significant transaction of the year, including the complex restructuring of the Cooperative Bank, CVC Credit Partners’ USD600 million risk retention capital raise, and ICG’s EUR5.2 billion debt fund.”

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