Eircom Limited (eir), a wireless carrier and fixed broadband provider in Ireland, and InfraVia Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in Paris, today announced the formation of a new joint venture, known as Fibre Networks Ireland Limited, to build wholesale fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks across the Republic of Ireland. Specifically, InfraVia will acquire a 49.99% interest in the Fibre Networks Ireland entity, with eir retaining a 50.01% stake.

Per reports from The Sunday Times, upon completion of this transaction, eir’s largest shareholder, Xavier Niel, is expected to take a dividend worth “hundreds of millions of euros” as part of the fiber network sale proceeds. Notably, Anchorage Capital and Davidson Kempner are also significant shareholders of eir.

Fibre Networks Ireland – eir, InfraVia

eir will contribute its existing fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and copper infrastructure to the Fibre Networks Ireland joint venture in exchange for cash funding from InfraVia, who will serve as an investment partner. In turn, Fibre Networks Ireland will enter into a long-term service agreement with eir.

eir will support Fibre Networks Ireland’s operations by providing access to its team and specialists throughout the duration of the fiber roll-out.

Expansion Plans

Fibre Networks Ireland will accelerate the deployment of eir’s open access fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network. Specifically, this FTTH network will provide high-speed internet across both rural and urban areas of the Republic of Ireland.

By the end of 2026, the joint venture targets passing 1.9 million premises. As such, the company, in combination with the National Broadband Plan, will provide Ireland with 90%+ coverage of all premises at the conclusion of both projects.

In terms of pacing, this joint venture allows eir to increase the velocity of its fiber broadband roll-out, which will accelerate to 200k homes passed in 2022 and, increase further, to 250k homes passed in 2023.

Open Access Wholesale Fiber Network

Fibre Networks Ireland will operate, build, and maintain an open access wholesale fiber network. Therefore, the company’s network is open to all internet service providers (ISPs) to offer retail broadband services to end users in Ireland. More specifically, Fibre Networks Ireland will provide passive broadband services exclusively to eir’s wholesale unit, open eir Networks.

Overall, open eir will supply wholesale broadband and voice services to its customers including eir and third-party telecom companies such as Sky and Vodafone.

InfraVia Capital Partners – Overview

InfraVia Capital Partners is a private equity firm which focuses on infrastructure and technology investments. Since 2008, InfraVia has raised €7bn+ of capital and invested in 40+ companies across 13 European countries.

Digital Infrastructure

InfraVia Capital Partners has invested across all of the major sub-sectors of digital infrastructure, including towers, data centers, and fiber. Presently, InfraVia’s digital infrastructure portfolio includes:

  • IFT (Investissement dans la Fibre des Territoires): fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) joint venture, between InfraVia and Iliad, for medium and low-density areas of France. To-date, IFT has invested €760m+ and reached ~70% coverage of the territory
  • Celeste: owns and operates the third largest national network in France, providing services to enterprises and the public sector. Specifically, Celeste’s wholesale fiber network spans 5.3k route miles (8.5k route kilometers), with 234 points-of-presence (POPs), in 2.65k municipalities
  • green.ch (Green Data Centre): acquired Altice’s telecommunications solutions business and data center operations in Switzerland for €184m (CHF 214m). Presently, Green operates ~25 megawatts of power capacity and has secured land to develop 80 megawatts of additional capacity
  • Liberty Networks Germany: joint venture with Liberty Global to build fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks in underserved municipalities of Germany

Digital Infrastructure – Ireland

Below are three recent updates in Ireland’s digital infrastructure market, including another transaction by eir:

TETRA Ireland

In January 2022, eir agreed to sell a 56% stake in TETRA Ireland, an operator of public safety wireless networks across the Republic of Ireland, to Digital 9 Infrastructure for €76m.

SIRO

In November 2021, Macquarie Asset Management (MAM), through its Private Credit team, provided a €125m term loan to SIRO Limited, a Vodafone-backed broadband provider in Ireland. Particularly, debt proceeds will fund the expansion of SIRO’s FTTH network to pass 770k homes and businesses in Ireland.

Echelon Data Centres

In January 2022, Echelon Data Centres, a hyperscale data center developer and operator in Ireland and the UK secured an initial €855m ($970m USD) of debt financing from Starwood Capital to fund construction of its data center sites in Ireland.

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