The Irish Independent writes that Denis O’Brien’s Digicel Group could be just days away from submitting a formal proposal for control of the Republic’s largest telecoms company, Eircom. According to the paper, citing people involved in ongoing debt talks, the Jamaica-based group will seek a tie-up with the Irish PTO’s main lenders before launching a bid for Eircom. It is understood that Digicel’s offer would be conditional on it being able to write off more than EUR1 billion (USD1.38 billion) of Eircom’s EUR3.7 billion of debt, and that the telco’s current shareholders could face being ‘wiped out’ if the move succeeds. However, the report goes on to say that if successful in its takeover, Digicel has no plans to break up Eircom.
In a related development, Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa, which is controlled by the billionaire Li Ka-shing, has dismissed rumours it is in talks with Eircom’s owners over a possible deal. Earlier this week, CommsUpdate reported that Eircom had received an approach from an unnamed third party, and that Hutchison Whampoa, which owns and operates 3 Ireland, had also been touted as another possible interested suitor. However, in an e-mailed statement the company said: ‘Hutchison is not in talks on Eircom.’