Eir’s biggest shareholder, Anchorage Capital, is understood to be in talks to acquire part of rival US hedge fund York Capital’s almost 10 per cent stake in the phone group, which could tip its voting rights above the 50 per cent level.
York Capital, which was among a group of Eir creditors who seized control of the group as part of a debt restructuring in 2012, is understood to be seeking to exit its investment. This will likely see Anchorage, which owns 36.4 per cent of Eir’s equity but higher voting percentage, believed to be between 45 per cent and 49 per cent, take a controlling interest in the phone group.
It is also possible that Eir’s other major shareholders, Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC and hedge fund Davidson Kempner, may increase their equity stake as York exits. GIC currently owns 16.3 per cent of the equity, with Davidson Kempner, 11.8 per cent.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) said in a statement that it had been notified of the move on Wednesday.
GIC took its 16.3 per cent stake in Eir in June from a group of investors, largely hedge funds, that converted debt into equity in 2012 at the time of the restructuring. It paid €232 a share at the time, valuing the company at between € 3.3 billion and €3.5 billion.
In a trading update last July, the company said its sales grew by an estimated “low single digit” per cent in the three months to the end of June, compared to the same period last year – the fifth consecutive quarter of growth following years of decline.
Eir, then Eircom, exited examinership in 2012 . Anchorage was a major lender to the company at the time and became a major shareholder as debt was swapped for equity as part of the deal. The company had planned to float on the stockmarket in 2014, but had to pull the plan late in the day.