According to reports in the Irish Independent, UK telecoms group BT is understood to have approached eircom’s owners, Babcock and Brown (B&B), about the possibility of buying the Irish incumbent’s EUR1.8 billion retail and mobile businesses. Unconfirmed industry sources say that BT was approached recently about its interest, although no formal talks have taken place. Moreover, it is believed that BT is not the only operator to have been approached. Other names linked by the press to a possible bid for eircom’s operations include Orange and Liberty Global’s UPC.
eircom’s retail business is estimated to be worth EUR1 billion, while Meteor Mobile could garner a further EUR800 million. It is not clear at this stage whether B&B would sell the two units separately or as a combined deal. Although disposing of Meteor would prove relatively straightforward, with 3G operator Hutchison 3 Ireland appearing to be an obvious candidate, selling off the company’s retail fixed line business faces numerous regulatory obstacles.