IIF takes 100pc ownership of fibre player Enet

8 Oct 2018

US telecoms investor David McCourt. Image: Granahan McCourt

New move will allow Granahan McCourt to focus exclusively on leading National Broadband Plan consortium.

The Irish Infrastructure Fund (IIF) has agreed to acquire the remaining 22pc of Enet from Granahan McCourt.

The move ostensibly frees up Granahan McCourt to focus exclusively on the National Broadband Plan (NBP), Ireland’s €1bn State-backed plan to bring connectivity to about 540,000 people.

‘I have long believed that the provision of world-class connectivity needs to be viewed as a vital utility’

Granahan McCourt, led by US telecoms mogul David McCourt, will lead the National Broadband Ireland consortium that includes Enet, as well as engineering services firm Actavo, tech giant Nokia, Kelly Group and KN Group.

Enet was the last consortium left in the race after Siro (ESB and Vodafone) pulled out almost a year ago, with Eir leaving the bidding table earlier this year. Originally, Enet was in a consortium with UK-based infrastructure giant SSE, but SSE sensationally left the consortium during the summer.

Enet filed the final bid for the NBP plan with its revitalised team in recent weeks to deliver fibre broadband to every home, farm and business in the intervention area.

Bringing gigabit broadband to the regions

The National Broadband Ireland group said that it will have access to Open Eir’s 1.2m poles around Ireland and that the intention is to provide 1Gbps services, well beyond the 30Mbps originally envisaged by the Irish Government.

“I have long believed that the provision of world-class connectivity needs to be viewed as a vital utility, and Enet continues to play a significant role in solving this problem for many citizens across the country,” McCourt said. “I have been proud to have been part of the company’s ownership structure, and wish the team a successful future.

“Today, Granahan McCourt are pleased to be putting our full and absolute commitment behind the Irish Government’s National Broadband Plan. Granahan McCourt has led the consortium since the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) was submitted in March 2016 and, as we are now looking ahead to delivering the NBP and in order to fully commit our time, energy and resources to this ambitious project, we have taken the decision to sell our remaining stake in Enet.”

The IIF is a fund managed by AMP Capital and Irish Life Investment Managers. It will now own 100pc of Enet, including the management of the Irish Government’s 94 metropolitan area networks, which serve 70 telecoms companies around Ireland.

Enet also operates a dark fibre backhaul infrastructure that traverses the Irish rail and gas network along with wireless infrastructure.

“The kind of connectivity that Enet provides is necessary for continued economic growth,” said AMP Capital’s Philip Doyle on behalf of IIF.

“We are committed to making long-term investment in Ireland’s future and to gearing its economy for growth while delivering attractive returns for our investors, which include numerous Irish institutional investors.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years