Esat BT chief executive and BT Northern Ireland managing director Bill Murphy yesterday confirmed that his company was among a number of companies considering acquiring the Irish division of cable giant NTL, which is currently up for sale.
In recent weeks it emerged that the Irish arm of NTL was to be put up for sale by its UK parent. A number of prospective bidders have emerged, including United Pan-Europe Communications and UGC Europe, which recently acquired another Irish-based cable operator Chorus.
It is understood that Goldman Sachs will invite a shortlist of bidders to undertake due diligence on the company in the coming week as part of an auction process.
At a financial press conference yesterday afternoon, Murphy confirmed that his company was considering the opportunity. “We are looking at it. I think we would be daft not to look at it,” he said.
“However, we haven’t made a final decision on whether to enter the race,” Murphy said.
In 1999 at the height of the dotcom boom, NTL Ireland came into being when it was acquired from RTÉ and Eircom for €679m when NTL emerged victorious following a vicious ownership battle against Irish multimillionaire Denis O’Brien.
It is envisaged that the sale figure for NTL Ireland will reach nowhere near the 1999 price, with some reports setting the figure at around €250m.
By John Kennedy