According to a report from Irish online news journal Independent.ie, eircom’s 35% shareholder, the Employee Share Ownership Trust (ESOT), is considering a plan to buy into its ailing majority owner, Australian listef fund Babcock & Brown Capital (BCM), as it mulls the prospects of the Republic’s former state-owned telecoms monopoly. Sources familiar with the situation say ESOT is considering a number of options regarding the future ownership of eircom, and that the plan to buy a stake in BCM comes in the wake of the resignation of Robert Topfer – the man who masterminded BCM’s debt-driven takeover of eircom two years ago. Independent.ie says Mr Topfer is rumoured to be preparing his own separate bid for BCM and that ESOT is expected to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach before launching a rival offer. eircom, which is carrying around EUR4 billion (USD5.86 billion) in debts on its books, has been forced to refute several recent press reports that it is being put up for sale by its ultimate owner – Babcock & Brown – the troubled Australian bank which has an 8% stake in eircom as well as in BCM.
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