Majority stake of National Broadband Ireland sold to Spanish investment firm

12 Jul 2022

Image: National Broadband Ireland

Oak Hill Advisors, Twin Point Capital and other stakeholders are selling a reported 80pc stake in NBI to Spanish firm Asterion.

The two largest stakeholders in National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the company delivering the National Broadband Plan on behalf of the Government, are selling their shares to a Spanish investor.

Asterion Industrial Partners has agreed to acquire the interests held by Oak Hill Advisors, Twin Point Capital and certain minority stakeholders.

The deal remains subject to Government approval and is expected to close in autumn. The agreement will give Asterion an 80pc stake in NBI, RTÉ reported.

Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed. It will see Asterion and existing investor Granahan McCourt take on all responsibilities and guarantees of NBI.

Last December, The Business Post reported that Granahan McCourt CEO and NBI chair, David McCourt, was awarded the contract for the €3bn National Broadband Plan in exchange for an equity investment of €116,564.

Speaking about the new deal, McCourt said: “In Asterion, we welcome a hugely respected partner with decades of experience in telecoms infrastructure that will not only help us deliver on this extremely ambitious project, but also bring long-term commitment to Ireland, which has always been our stated aim.”

Asterion specialises in European infrastructure investments across sectors such as telecoms, mobility and energy. The firm has investments in the UK, France, Spain and Italy.

“We are delighted to partner with Granahan McCourt and continue to invest in the development of rural fibre infrastructure with NBI, in one of the most ambitious fibre roll-outs in the world, providing access to rural, long-term and future-proofed connectivity in Ireland,” said Asterion founding partner Winnie Wutte.

“We are also excited and committed to the opportunity of creating a centre of excellence in Ireland in partnership with Granahan McCourt to open up tremendous long-term opportunities in the Irish market and further cement its leadership position in the provision of a gigabit society.”

The National Broadband Plan aims to connect more than 1.1m people across 544,000 homes, businesses, farms and schools in Ireland where commercial operators do not currently provide high-speed connectivity.

The full deployment of the contract, which was signed in November 2019, is expected to be complete by 2027 but delays have raised concerns about that deadline being met.

NBI said in April that there is “strong momentum” in the roll-out, but a report by the Committee of Public Accounts criticised the lack of progress and said the plan “does not represent value for money to the taxpayer”.

In its latest update, NBI said that more than 63,000 Irish premises have been passed under the National Broadband Plan, with around 15,000 connected.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic